Dr Annalicia Vaughan from the Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation is the successful recipient of the Kenyon Foundation Inflammation Award for 2022.
The Award, valued at $20,000, will support Dr Vaughan’s study into identifying new microbial-derived biomarkers for the early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.
The leading cause of cancer death, lung cancer is responsible for about 9,000 deaths each year in Australia.
In the study, Dr Vaughan will seek to identify biomarkers found in the blood that are associated with microbiota found in the cancerous tissues of the lung.
“Early-stage diagnosis of lung cancer is critical as it is often diagnosed at a late stage – symptoms tend to appear when the disease is already advanced, limiting the range of treatment options available to patients,” said Dr Vaughan.
“The identification of new biomarkers in the blood could be an effective screening tool to detect the presence of lung cancer at an early stage, benefiting patients and at-risk individuals.”
Dr Vaughan says that current research shows that the immune landscape of the lungs plays a vital role in the development of lung cancer as well as in the body’s response to medical therapies such as immunotherapy and chemotherapy.
“We also know that the local microbial lung population is a key regulator of this immune landscape – and that when this microbial population is altered, persistent inflammation and the development of lung cancer can result,” said Dr Vaughan.
“We hope to be able to find relevant biomarkers in the blood that reflect this lung cancer and microbiota association.”
Dr Vaughan said she is thankful for the Kenyon Foundation’s support.
“The funding will help me to undertake research that could ultimately result in a new routine blood screening test for lung cancer in Australia.”
David Kenyon, Trustee of the Kenyon Foundation said, “Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers and can be devastating for those individuals and their families touched by the disease. We’re extremely pleased to be able to support Dr Vaughan’s research into improving lives in this critical health area.”