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siRNA gene therapy for rectal cancer

University of Technology, Sydney

  • RNA Future Leaders Program
Date Funded:
  • 3 August, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Wei Deng

Project Summary

Exploring the anti-tumour efficacy of gene therapy via liposome-siRNA formulation for rectal cancer.

The main researcher for this project is Associate Professor Wei Deng.

What is the issue for NSW?

Rectal cancer represents a significant 30% of all colorectal cancers. The prevalence of colorectal cancer in Australia was more than 15,000 new cases in 2021; it remains 2nd biggest cancer killer in both Australia and NSW. Rectal cancer patients often need neoadjuvant radiation in combination with chemotherapy. The goal of neoadjuvant treatment is to reduce local recurrence. However this treatment comes at a cost as late functional results after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy are not favourable. Also nearly 30% patients are unable to have chemotherapy due to drug resistance or frailty. Emerging immunotherapy currently benefits only 15% of advanced colorectal cancer patients. This leaves the clinician with no further options. Therefore the aim of this PhD program is to explore the anti-cancer potential of siRNA therapeutics. The findings from this project may expand the treatment options for rectal cancer patients and improve the quality of life and survival rate of such patients.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Through the support of this program, we aim to:

(1) develop liposome-siRNA formulation via our patented delivery platform and assess its in-vitro gene editing efficacy

(2) Investigate in vivo gene editing and anti-cancer efficacy of siRNA therapy

The academic team with expertise in nanoparticle delivery, gene editing and tumour biology will fully support PhD student to explore its applicability of the new treatment strategy for rectal cancer. He/she will learn all the processes required to take this treatment through to completion. Findings obtained from this project will contribute to the development of the RNA-based therapy option to combat CRC.