by Matt Deans and Matt Deans
COFFS Harbour born and educated researcher Dr Ryan Cross been awarded one of two Cure Brain Cancer Foundation Early Career Fellowships worth $345,000.
The funding over three years will aid his research at the Walter Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is supporting Dr Cross to create cancer-fighting immune cells that can be made from a brain cancer patient's own blood.
This new technology has recently been approved in the US for blood cancer and Dr Cross aims to apply the success of this technology to pediatric brain cancer.
This fellowship forms part of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation's collaboration with the Federal Government to invest $100 million in the Australian Brain Cancer Mission to double survival rates and improve quality of life for people living with brain cancer.
Dr Cross was educated at Tyalla Public School and Bishop Druitt College before studying at the University of Melbourne, attaining an honours degree in genetics and immunology.
Brain cancer causes more deaths in Australian children than any other disease.
There have been no new treatments for aggressive brain cancer for the past 30 years, despite dramatic improvements in treatments for many other cancers.
Dr Cross's research is focused on two of the deadliest types of brain cancer - diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer in children, and adult glioblastoma.
"This work will use patient samples to discover how best to program cancer-fighting immune T cells in the lab to kill brain cancer," Dr Cross said.
"This fellowship will enable me to test and refine this approach, developing a 'pipeline' that could allow personalised treatments for children and adults with brain cancer."
Dr Cross said his research was made possible by partnerships with consumers, industry, as well as with other scientific and clinical organisations within the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
"This work was initiated using seed funding that I received from The Jack Brockhoff Foundation and now Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has provided me with vital support to continue my research to try and help children with brain cancer," he said.