Bowel Cancer: Our Research

Chaired by Associate Professor Paul McMurrick, Head of the Cabrini Monash Department of Surgery, The work of the MCCC’s bowel cancer collaborative, (MONCARP – Monash Cabrini Colorectal Cancer Research Platform) has resulted in:

  • A $2million grant from the Victorian Cancer Agency to start a world first Phase II trial aimed at identifying which patients with bowel or prostate cancer will respond well to a suite of anti-cancer drugs called BET inhibitors.
  • A retrospective tissue micro-array library connected to a detailed clinical treatment database as a resource for bowel cancer research.
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments prior to surgical intervention for bowel cancer patients based on the staging of the cancer at diagnosis.
  • Advancement in the development of colorectal organoid cultures as a pre-clinical research tool for the development of personalised medicines, by enabling DNA and RNA screening and drug therapy testing
  • Advancement in understanding of molecular stem cell biology and its role in the development of bowel cancer (Snai1 regulates cell lineage allocation and stem cell maintenance in the mouse intestinal epithelium. Horvay K, Jardé T, Casagranda F, Perreau VM, Haigh K, Nefzger CM, Akhtar R, Gridley T, Berx G, Haigh JJ, Barker N, Polo JM, Hime GR, Abud HE. EMBO J. 2015 May 12;34(10):1319-35. doi: 10.15252/embj.201490881. Epub 2015 Mar 10. )
  • Advancement of molecular biology research in ovarian cancer which features the same primary sites of metastasis (lung, liver, peritoneum) as bowel cancers
  • An extensive national screening program for the prevention and early detection of bowel cancer (our clinical leaders were proud contributors to this campaign)
  • The Cabrini Monash colorectal database, the first Internet browser-based database of its kind in Australia, collects extensive patient data relating to family history, genetic abnormalities, background co-morbidity, treatment and long-term outcome and follow-up. Between Cabrini and Alfred Health, more than 900 patients have been recruited. The database will prove an invaluable research tool and it has been selected by the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand as the bi-national colorectal neoplasia database, with implementation across both countries due in 2013. More than 50 clinicians and 20 hospitals and treatment centres have committed to participation in this program.
  • The development of the accredited training resource for General Practitioners, designed to boost participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, from around 36% in Victoria (and lower in other states) to around 80% of the population. The series of four short audio-visual presentations provides information about the importance of screening and the NBCSP, who should be screened, how to differentiate symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, the process for referral and follow up, and a series of case studies. The resource can be accessed on line at:


MCCC would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of “Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer” a Cabrini Health charity dedicated to prevention of bowel cancer through community education. Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer has directly supported a variety of research projects assessing the success of patient education and screening, as well as investigating surgical techniques.  The initiative is Chaired by Monash University’s Emeritus Professor Adrian Polglase.