Applecross woman’s war on cancer

Anna Johannson’ war chest in her campaign to neutralise pancreatic cancer has received a $225,000 boost. Picture: Marcus Whisson d398598
Anna Johannson’ war chest in her campaign to neutralise pancreatic cancer has received a $225,000 boost. Picture: Marcus Whisson d398598

The Applecross researcher received the grant last week after proposing a research project that looks at how she could enhance the effects of immune therapy and chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients.

‘Pancreatic cancers are highly aggressive and virtually resistant to any form of chemotherapy,’ she said.

‘We know they are notoriously difficult to treat, which we believe is partly due to poorly functioning blood vessels in the tumours, so we’re aiming to address this by modifying the blood flow into a tumour.’

She said the aim was to get the blood vessels working better to help boost the immune system and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs during treatment.

‘We have recently discovered a new way to enhance the effects of immune therapy in pancreatic tumours and we have strong reasons to believe we might also be able to enhance the effects of chemotherapy, using a similar technique,’ she said.

Dr Johansson said the grant would give her a chance to establish herself as a cancer researcher in WA and make a difference to current cancer therapies.

Cancer Council chief executive Susan Rooney said early career grants helped retain talented young researchers such as Dr Johansson in WA.