Sometimes, treating cancer is as painful and crippling as the cancer itself because cancer treatments don’t differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells. Associate Professor Henderson’s research focuses on using the destructive nature of cancer cells against themselves. Cancer cells divide very quickly they are unable to manage simple processes like ‘taking out the garbage’. This characteristic of cancer cells provides an opportunity to specifically target them for treatment, called a cancer selective therapy. In Luke’s lab, they are making molecules which can generate ‘molecular garbage’ in cancer cells and not healthy cells. In this way, only the cancer cells become overrun with problems and are shut down, while the healthy cells can clean themselves as they normally, minimizing the painful side-effects of cancer treatment.
Luke has developed a profile in the Geelong community as a young researcher and was recently the invited speaker at the Geelong ‘Relay for Life’ fund raiser for cancer, to provide an overview of my research outcomes and my personal experiences with cancer and its impact on my family. He regularly talks to groups of high school students and on a number of occasions interested students have returned to the laboratory for 3-4 days of supervised lab work.