Sally Crossing AM Award 2022: Celebrating advances in breast cancer research
By Cancer Council NSW
Research can take many years to have real-world impact for people living with cancer. Today, we’re thrilled to share with you the progress and impact of this year’s recipient of the Sally Crossing AM Award for an Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research, Professor Elgene Lim.
The award is dedicated to the memory of the late Sally Crossing AM (1946-2016). Sally was a pioneer and tireless advocate for consumer involvement in cancer research, ensuring meaningful involvement from community members – who have been directly and indirectly affected by cancer – are able to contribute to research and outcomes.
The award recognises the outcomes achieved by Professor Lim arising from research previously funded by Cancer Council, with strong consumer involvement, and which has improved the lives of those affected by cancer.
Professor Lim is a clinician scientist with a focus on breast cancer research and treatment. In partnership with patients and consumers, his group spans the research translation pathway, working from identifying key clinical challenges where new treatments are needed, to conducting preclinical studies to find potential treatment strategies and biomarkers through to clinical trials of new treatment strategies for patients with specific cancer biomarkers.
The path from research theory to clinical trial
Estrogen is a female hormone that promotes breast cancer growth, and drugs that counteract this effect (known as antiestrogenic drugs) are used to treat the disease. One such drug is Tamoxifen. In earlier research, the Professor Lim and his team discovered that another hormone, progesterone, enhances the effect of Tamoxifen.
With funding awarded by Cancer Council NSW in 2017, Professor Lim and his team tested their theory that combining progesterone with Tamoxifen would be more effective than current standard of care in stopping tumour growth and improving patient outcomes.
The results from their preclinical testing confirmed their theory and provided the critical evidence needed to initiate a clinical trial of this new combination treatment.
Professor Lim and this team commenced a national clinical trial in 2019, recruiting postmenopausal women who have been newly diagnosed with hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative early breast cancer.
The trial, called WinPro, is testing whether adding the drug Prometrium (progesterone) to hormone therapy for two weeks before women have breast surgery will slow down the growth of the cancer. The findings will help to predict whether women’s breast cancer is likely to respond well to hormone treatment after surgery, and whether progesterone has an anti-cancer effect.
With 145 of the 200 participants needed already enrolled in the trial, the team anticipate their clinical trial will wrap up later this year.
Professor Lim has said his team will use the $50,000 Sally Crossing Award to further to analyse pre and post tumour tissue obtained from the trial. He and his team will study the tissue from tumours that were most responsive to the combined treatment and compare it with tumours that did not respond to the treatment to better understand the how treatment resistance occurs.
In memory of Sally Crossing AM
The award was made possible through the generosity of the Belalberi Foundation, a foundation established by the family of the late Sally Crossing AM (1946-2016). Sally was a pioneer and tireless advocate for patient centred medicine and the first consumer appointed to the Cancer Council Board. She advocated strongly and continuously for training in consumer advocacy and for the inclusion of meaningful consumer involvement in research. Sally’s advocacy was focused through Cancer Voices NSW which she was instrumental in establishing in 2000 and led for some 13 years. Sally’s legacy continues today at Cancer Voices NSW with the mantra ‘nothing about us without us’.
Cancer Council NSW and Cancer Voices NSW acknowledge the extraordinary support of the Belalberi Foundation and the Crossing family in conferring this award..