Top chef has place in his heart for new research

Monday, 11th September, 2017

DONATIONS COUNT – Heart Research Australia ambassador, chef Alessandro Pavoni.

IT IS difficult to imagine the heartbreak of undergoing cancer treatment and surviving, only to be diagnosed with heart failure – a condition that is severely incapacitating and ultimately fatal.

Sadly, this is the reality for some cancer patients, whose treatment has caused side effects such as heart failure.

Heart Research Australia ambassador Alessandro Pavoni, owner executive chef at the two-hatted Ormeggio at The Spit, knows all too well how devastating the side effects of cancer treatments can be.

Alessandro had cancer in his back and lungs when he was 19. After year-long treatment including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, he was cancer-free and able to focus on pursuing his dream career as a chef.

But in 2009, at the age of 36, he suffered two heart attacks. He believes the cancer treatment he underwent “ruined” his arteries, which led to the attacks.

That’s why he is so excited about the research being undertaken by cardiologist and Heart Research Australia researcher Helge Rasmussen and his team.

Their research has identified that a specific protein is overexpressed in some cancer cells, including breast, pancreas, prostate and bowel cancer cells, acting as a protector to the cancer cells, and making them less responsive to treatments such as doxorubicin.

The team has developed a peptide that “wipes out” the protective effect of the protein when applied to some cancer cells, amplifying the effectiveness of treatments like doxorubicin tenfold.

This research not only has the potential to reduce damage to the heart – it could lead to a cure for some cancers.

Heart Research Australia chief executive Nicci Dent said breakthroughs like Professor Rasmussen’s would be impossible without the income her organisation receives through gifts in wills.

“It’s the caring and compassionate individuals from the past who left gifts both large and small to Heart Research Australia in their wills, who are enabling us to fund many of our exciting research projects today.”

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