Clinical trial funding set to save cancer patients from fatal infections

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Griffith University scientists are working to save the lives of hundreds of cancer patients from fatal bloodstream infections during treatment, thanks to a $200,000 Cancer Council grant.

About 400 cancer patients will lose their lives to bloodstream infections, not their cancer, each year in Australia, with more than 1600 potentially fatal infections occurring nationally.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said reducing infection rates was key to cancer control.

“Continuously improving cancer treatment is core to our mission, and key to defeating cancer in the long-term.

“We are proud to award this grant to Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute, and have great hope that this clinical trial will benefit many thousands of Australians diagnosed with cancer.”

Director of Menzies Health Institute QLD, Professor Suzanne Chambers, said Australian cancer patients use 20,000 central venous catheters (CVCs) each year for treatment.

“CVCs are used for chemotherapy, transfusions, hydration, nutrition and repeated blood tests,” Prof Chambers said.

“Around 13 per cent of CVCs can become blocked during treatment, causing failure and the need for replacement procedures.

“These complications cost the Australian health system around $595 million a year, with pain, treatment delays, prolonged hospitalisation, and up to 25 per cent associated mortality.”

Griffith University’s Dr Li Zhang, a healthcare microbiologist, will lead the project, identifying practices that prevent infections and other complications.

“Better design and disinfection of connectors is vital to prevent the blockage of central lines and catheters, to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs,” Dr Zhang said.

“This grant provides the vital funding we need to establish clinical trial evidence to guide treatment protocols.

“Our control trial will evaluate alternative connector designs and connector disinfection strategies to prevent bloodstream infections and line blockages from occurring.”

The Griffith University research grant is one of 10 research projects Cancer Council Queensland has funded in 2017/18, with $200,000 to be provided over two years.

A full list of Cancer Council’s 2017/18 research grants is available online at

More than 26,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer each year, and about 8600 die from the disease.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available on 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171


CCQ Project Grants 2017/18

CIA Institution Project Title
Dr Li Zhang Griffith University Prevention of central venous catheter infection and occlusion by needleless connector design and disinfection in haematology-oncology patients
Dr Antiopi Varelias QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Understanding the interplay between cytokines and intestinal dysbiosis following stem cell transplantation
Prof Alpha Yap The University of Queensland Down-regulation of RhoA signaling mediates HGF/MET-induced tumour progression
Dr James Wells The University of Queensland Memory CD8+ T-cell function in squamous cell carcinoma
Dr Siok-Keen Tey QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease with regulatory T cell-directed therapy — insights from gene-marking
A/Prof Kiarash Khosrotehrani UQ Diamantina Institute Predictors of mortality in thin melanomas
Dr Lionel Hebbard James Cook University Clarifying the controversial role of fructose in liver cancer
Dr Graham Leggatt The University of Queensland Local targeting of immunomodulatory molecules on CD8 T cells in non-melanoma skin cancer
Dr Jyotsna Batra Queensland University of Technology Genetic association study of miRSNPs with risk and prognosis of prostate cancer
Prof Elizabeth Isenring Bond University Supplemental Prophylactic Intervention for Chemotherapy-induced Nausea and Emesis (SPICE) trial