New collaborations between Queensland and China could help develop novel treatments for oral cancers.

Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development Andrew Fraser has announced $249,000 in Smart Futures Funding for Associate Professor Nick Saunders of the Diamantina Institute in collaboration with Professor Charlie Degui Chen of the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Associate Professor Saunders and his team will progress work involving the study of squamous cell carcinomas, that commonly occur on the skin and upper aerodigestive tract. These are common, life threatening cancers associated with approximately 1500 deaths per year in Australia,” Mr Fraser said.

“Associate Professor Saunders’ funding will enable work on the “epigenetic modifiers” that has the potential to create new treatments in the next 3 years.”

“Associate Professor Saunders will now be able to progress work on a joint project between Queensland (within the Diamantina Institute) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences,” he said.

Associate Professor Saunders said the funding would enable world-leading research on one of the major cause of oral cancers to combine, identifying new targets for squamous cell carcinoma treatments.

“Professor Chen is a world leader in epigenetics and our combined efforts will greatly facilitate the pace with which we may be able to identify new targeted epigenetic therapies for treating squamous cell cancers” Associate Professor Saunders said.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences further matches Queensland Government funding bringing the total value of the collaboration to $500,000.

The Queensland grants were funded under the Queensland Government’s $91.3 million Smart Futures Fund’s National and International Research Alliances Program.

Mr Fraser and the Consul General of the PRC, Ren Gongping, presented the award to Associate Professor Saunders at Government House on July 21.

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