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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Lismore professor wins cancer award

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Lismore-based Professor Michael McKay has won a prestigious award for his unique discovery that may one day lead to better outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Prof McKay, the North Coast Cancer Institute’s (NCCI) radiation oncologist staff specialist took out the Novartis Oncology Award for Best Clinical Outcomes in Breast Cancer Therapy.

Prof McKay won the award for his research in describing the characterisation of a new biomarker for breast cancer. A biomarker is a test that can predict tumour behaviour or response to therapy.

Prof McKay said he was delighted to receive this recognition of his work.

‘My colleagues and I performed the first comprehensive analysis of a new and recently breast cancer-associated protein known as Rad21. In this work, we tested whether Rad21 might be a new breast cancer biomarker.

‘We discovered that those patients who had activity of Rad21 in their breast cancer had a worse outcome across all the cases studied, Prof McKay said.

We also observed that for patients who received chemotherapy, Rad21 status predicted overall survival within that group. We performed laboratory analysis, which suggested that at least one mechanism for this effect could be defective DNA repair.

Prof McKay said ‘We are testing the generalisability of these findings in other groups of breast cancer patients, which is underpinned by further cell and molecular biology studies to better understand the biology of this new breast cancer biomarker.’

Chris Crawford, chief executive, Northern NSW Local Health District said this recognition from Novartis Oncology is awarded to the best scientific paper prepared for the Annual Scientific Meeting judged by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists in the breast cancer field.

‘I extend my congratulations to Prof McKay and thank him for his commitment to improving treatment for breast cancer patients living in the Northern Rivers, Mr Crawford said.

The Novartis Oncology Award is judged on originality, methodology, analysis of results, clinical relevance and scientific merit.  Prof McKay’s presentation was entitled: Rad21 Cohesion Expression Confers Poor Prognosis and Resistance to Chemotherapy in High Grade Breast Cancers and was recognised as the best amongst his colleagues.

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