Dr Mark Adams

Seeking better outcomes for lung-cancer patients

Mark is a scientist in biochemistry and cell biology, oncology and carcinogenesis at Queensland University of Technology.

At age 23, he was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma – an adrenal gland tumour – and had surgery to remove it. ‘While I’ve been lucky, my extended family has been affected, with my grandmother passing away from gastric cancer and aunt diagnosed with breast cancer,’ says Mark.

Mark’s current area of research is lung cancer, which is responsible for the most cancer-related deaths worldwide and still has a poor survival rate despite recent advances in therapy.

The Research

The most common form of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer, for which patients may need surgery followed by chemotherapy, or a combination of chemo and radiotherapy.

‘Chemotherapy functions by attacking the genome of tumours, but the main issue with this approach is that only twenty to thirty per cent of patients respond,’ Mark says. ‘We need new tests to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from certain therapies, and new agents to enhance the effectiveness of current drugs.’

His Cure Cancer-supported research is focused on this quest, in particular on studying molecules that will serve as ‘predictive biomarkers’ to identify patients who will best respond to therapy, and molecules that can form the basis of potential future drugs that will make chemotherapy more effective.

Mark has already identified promising proteins that can be used as a clinical tool to identify patients best suited for chemotherapy, and is investigating whether combining chemotherapy with new drugs that target proteins involved in tumour cell division is a useful strategy to improve responses. The end result, he believes, will be better outcomes for patients.

The Importance of Funding

‘In both a personal and professional sense, it’s a great honour to have my work funded by Cure Cancer,’ says Mark. ‘I’m extremely grateful to have the chance to test my findings. It is becoming more and more difficult to obtain grants, which makes funding from Cure Cancer immensely valuable and beneficial.’

To donors and fundraisers for Cure Cancer, Mark extends profound thanks.