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ECU team awarded funding for cancer research

Saturday, 13 June 2009

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ECU Team funded by Cancer Council of WA to develop a blood test for melanoma

Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in young Australians and a team of researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) are undertaking new research to identify melanoma using a blood test. This will also help to detect the spread of secondary tumours caused by migrating melanoma cells in peripheral blood of patients.

The project, led by Associate Professor Melanie Ziman, has been funded with a $70,000 research grant from the Cancer Council of WA.

Associate Professor Ziman's team have recently developed a blood test to detect when melanoma cells migrate into the blood stream.

The blood test has the potential to save thousands of lives through early detection.

The current research will determine what makes melanoma cells circulating in the blood switch to dangerous metastatic cells which cause secondary tumours.

Associate Professor Ziman says that the research findings will assist in diagnosis of melanoma and in treating aggressive melanomas.

"By analysing the genetics of these dangerous cells, it is hoped that we can reduce the prevalence of secondary tumours caused by melanomas," she says.

While research into melanoma and skin cancer is breaking new ground, Associate Professor Ziman says that prevention and early detection is the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

"Every year over 430,000 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer," she says.

"It's really important to protect yourself by covering up in the sun, wearing 30+ sunscreen and a hat, and try to stay in the shade as much as possible."

Associate Professor Mel Ziman works in collaboration with clinicians and researchers in WA and worldwide. All the clinicians, researchers, patients and sponsors play a vital role in progressing the research. 

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