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Children’s cancer is the number one cause of disease related death in developed countries. Thirty percent of children have recurrent or drug resistant disease, also referred to as high-risk disease. Current treatments for these children are highly toxic and lead to treatment related side effects and for survivors, can lead life-long health issues. There is an urgent need to develop more effective and targeted therapies to reduce the morbidity and mortality of childhood cancers. Interest in nano-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancers is increasing. As occurs with the development of other cancer therapeutics the focus is on treatments for adult cancers. Consideration needs to be given to the fact that children get different cancers to adults, metabolism differs between children and adults, children are growing during therapy and may have altered biodistribution profiles. Our research has been focusing on the development of clinically relevant in vitro and in vivo models of childhood cancer and the investigation and use of nanoparticle-based delivery systems that improve efficacy and are less toxic than conventional therapy.



Professor Maria Kavallaris AM is Founding Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at the UNSW Sydney, and Head of the Translational Cancer NanoMedicine Theme, Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney Australia.  Maria is recognised for her innovation in driving interdisciplinary research in cancer nanomedicine. She is internationally regarded for her research in cancer biology and therapeutics in childhood and adult cancers. Her research has identified clinically important mechanisms of resistance to cancer therapies, with her discoveries leading to patents, and industry and clinical linkages for the development of cancer therapeutics and devices. Maria has developed 3D bioprinted cancer organoids to unravel the biology of cancer and to advance this technology for cancer precision medicine.
Contributions to innovation are evidenced through numerous awards including, the 2017 Premiers Science and Engineering Award for Leadership in Innovation in NSW, 2019 Lemberg Medal, and along with colleagues, received the 2021 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative use of Technology. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of New South Wales. In 2019, Maria was appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia and in 2020, she was named the NSW Woman of the Year.

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