Dr Nicholas Fletcher

New therapies for triple negative breast cancer

Nicholas is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Imaging and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland. He completed a Bachelors of Biotechnology (Hons I) at the University of Queensland in 2009, and as part of his honours year in the group of Professor Matt Trau, he worked on developing novel diagnostic tools for infectious diseases. Nicholas then moved to Professor Andrew Whittaker’s research group and worked on improving the design and understanding of self-assembling peptides, first as a research assistant and then progressing into his PhD studies.

During his PhD, Nicholas completed a research placement at the University of Washington in Professor Buddy Ratner’s research group, looking at peptide biomaterials as potential wound-healing materials. Following completion of his PhD in 2014, Dr Fletcher commenced as a postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Associate Professor Kristofer Thurecht in the Centre for Advanced Imaging. In his time as a postdoctoral researcher he has worked primarily on developing polymeric nanoparticles as both diagnostic and therapeutic materials for multiple cancer types, with a particular focus on breast cancer. He has additionally worked closely with several biotechnology industry partners, focusing on preclinical screening of lead compounds. Outcomes from this work have included multiple research articles, grant funding from the University of Queensland, as well as fast tracking progress of lead antibodies to clinical trials.

THE RESEARCH

‘The quest to cure cancer requires the development of novel therapeutic approaches to combat this diverse and debilitating disease,’ says Nicholas. ‘My research aims to develop targeted nanomedicines which combine both diagnostic and therapeutic aspects to produce a new approach to both identify and treat breast cancer. This work is particularly significant as it targets the difficult to treat triple-negative breast cancer, for which there are currently very few targeted approaches available.’

THE IMPORTANCE OF FUNDING

‘The Cure Cancer Australia grant I have been awarded is extremely important in progressing my current work as it provides me the opportunity to expand my research team and investigate novel nanomedicines,’ says Nicholas. ‘In particular this will mean I am able to expand towards a more multidisciplinary team of researchers to approach challenges from new directions and explore research avenues that would be otherwise unavailable. This in turn enhances not only the quantity but also the quality and diversity of work able to be done towards developing novel targeted nanomedicines for cancer.’

Nicholas says he feel indebted to the donors who have made this funding possible; ‘Such grants provide much needed opportunities for researchers like me to work towards developing novel approaches to combat this devastating disease.’

Nicholas is funded by Cure Cancer Australia, solely supported by The Can Too Foundation.

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