Casey Ah-Cann

Co-funder: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

What are some of the key findings, progress and discoveries you have made with your research to date – and how will this make a difference to patients with this disease?

In collaboration with Clare Weeden (also supported by the Lung Cancer Foundation) we found that with a triple combination therapy involving two BH3 mimetics and an FGFR inhibitor, we were able to stop the growth of SCLC in the laboratory. This has huge potential towards creating better targeted treatments for patients.

In addition, I have found an important gene regulating lung development in utero. This gene has also been identified in lung cancer and is currently being investigated as a potential targeted treatment. I hope by understanding this gene’s role in the development of the lung, I can further understand this gene’s role in lung cancer.

What do you hope to achieve with this research project?

I hope to contribute to the lung biology field, first by understanding the normal processes, and then by understanding how these processes may go wrong and cause diseases. It is important to understand normal biology, particularly development, as many of the same factors that are important during organogenesis will go wrong later in life, and lead to cancer.

How important was the funding from Lung Foundation Australia to your work?

My PhD funding from the Lung Foundation Australia was incredibly important. Not only did it give me the financial support to do my research, but it also gave me a community and contacts within the field. It has been invaluable to have access to advocates and patients and provide me with face to face contact. This has given me a more personal reason for my research.

Do you have a message for Lung Foundation Australia’s supporters?

Thank you. Many of you have been, or still are, affected by lung cancer. It is a terrible disease that not only lacks adequate treatments and sufficient research, but also has a heavy burden of stigma in our society. By supporting me, I hope to support you by contributing to more lung cancer research and improving treatments. I will speak out to raise awareness that anyone can get lung cancer – and everyone deserves the best possible chance to beat it.

And if I could ask a favour, please support research. Demand it of your government representatives, and of institutions of the general public, for more research into the lung. It is one of the most underfunded cancers despite the fact that it has the highest mortality rate. We cannot improve treatments and outcomes if we cannot continually improve our knowledge, and we can’t improve our knowledge without research and researchers.