QIMR Berghofer http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au Medical Research Institute Wed, 20 Jun 2018 06:17:03 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Major study uncovers new breast cancer genes and opens the door for more discoveries http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/06/major-study-uncovers-new-breast-cancer-genes-and-opens-the-door-for-more-discoveries/ Mon, 18 Jun 2018 21:56:17 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=13713 An international team of researchers has used a new scientific method to discover at least 12 new genes that influence the risk of developing breast cancer. It is one of the first published transcriptome-wide association studies in the world to examine cancer risk and provides evidence to support this relatively new method for studying genes.…

The post Major study uncovers new breast cancer genes and opens the door for more discoveries appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
An international team of researchers has used a new scientific method to discover at least 12 new genes that influence the risk of developing breast cancer.

It is one of the first published transcriptome-wide association studies in the world to examine cancer risk and provides evidence to support this relatively new method for studying genes. The method is expected to help to speed up the discovery of more genes associated with cancer and other diseases, as well as drugs to target those genes.

The study was co-led by Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench and Dr Wei Shi from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and has been published today in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.

“One of the research methods used by many geneticists worldwide over the last decade is the genome-wide association study. These studies have allowed us collectively to discover hundreds of genetic variants, or genetic markers, that influence our likelihood of developing certain cancers or of having certain traits, like being tall or being a coffee drinker,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.

“While genome-wide association studies have advantages, there is a lot of information they don’t provide. For example, we can’t tell whether the genes associated with disease risk are expressed at a high or low level. In other words, we can’t tell whether the gene is turned up high like a very bright light, or is turned down low like a dim light.”

In the latest study published today, the researchers used a relatively new method known as a “transcriptome-wide association study”.

They examined approximately 8500 genes and determined whether they were likely to be turned up high or down low.

“We then looked at a much smaller group of these genes to find out what effect being turned up or down had on the risk of developing breast cancer,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.

“In laboratory experiments, we found when we turned these 12 genes down, the cancer cells didn’t grow as well. This is an important finding because these genes were not previously known to influence the risk of developing breast cancer, and because no one has validated results from transcriptome wide association studies like this.

“In future, we hope drugs can be developed targeting those specific genes, and others like them, to turn them down and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

“These findings are also significant because they show that transcriptome-wide association studies are likely to be very useful in helping us to find new genes to examine for cancer risk.

“This method also has several other advantages. It allows us to look at whole genes, rather than individual markers on the genes, and to study a much smaller number of genes.”

The study used data from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC).

The post Major study uncovers new breast cancer genes and opens the door for more discoveries appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Cancer a hit to the heart and the back pocket, says Queensland research http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/06/cancer-hit-heart-back-pocket-says-queensland-research/ Sun, 10 Jun 2018 23:49:40 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=13659 One quarter of Queenslanders diagnosed with cancer will pay upfront doctors’ fees of more than $20,000 in the first two years, according to a new study shining a light on out-of-pocket costs for survivors. Researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have investigated the financial burden faced by Australian cancer patients, with the findings published…

The post Cancer a hit to the heart and the back pocket, says Queensland research appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
One quarter of Queenslanders diagnosed with cancer will pay upfront doctors’ fees of more than $20,000 in the first two years, according to a new study shining a light on out-of-pocket costs for survivors.

Researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have investigated the financial burden faced by Australian cancer patients, with the findings published in the Medical Journal of Australia today.

QIMR Berghofer Health Economist, Associate Professor Louisa Gordon, said she calculated the out-of-pocket costs paid by 452 people who were diagnosed with cancer between November 2010 and 2011.

She said researchers obtained Medicare data for patients diagnosed with melanoma (200), breast cancer (84), prostate cancer (114), cancer of the colon or rectum (30), and lung cancer (24), and confirmed each diagnosis with the Queensland Cancer Registry.

Associate Professor Gordon said being out-of-pocket was stressful for patients and households.

“Paying high out-of-pocket fees is a huge burden on top of being told that you have cancer,” Associate Professor Gordon said.

“It may not be that a patient is necessarily charged a great amount by one doctor – it may just be a few hundred here or a thousand there – but it’s the accumulated cost of their cancer over time.

“On top of that, many patients will be unable to work while they are receiving treatment or recovering from treatment, so it’s a double-whammy.”

The study found total medical treatment fees were highest for patients with lung cancer (median $22,011) or breast cancer (median $21,581) and lowest for melanoma (median $5248).

Queenslanders diagnosed with breast cancer (median $4192) or prostate (median $3175) paid the highest out-of-pocket expenses, largely due to the additional cost of surgery.

Lung cancer patients paid the lowest out-of-pocket expenses (median $1078) however, this was due to poor survival following diagnosis.

Associate Professor Gordon said while costs for doctor consultations, tests, imaging, procedures and drugs were included in the study, extra fees from travel, parking, and lost time or income, were not.

“People who are diagnosed with cancer often have a very complex journey where they see multiple health professionals and may need to endure multiple treatments or combinations of therapies,” she said.

“Out-of-pocket costs are getting higher because we’ve got many more tests and procedures that are taking place, including genetic testing, imaging and other tools.

“Patients are more likely to be on medication for longer and there’s also ongoing monitoring and surveillance. These are all additional contact points with the health system, which drive up costs.”

Associate Professor Gordon said the onus was on patients to talk to their specialist to ensure they knew what they would be charged for a particular procedure.

“While greater transparency of doctors’ fees would help to level the playing field, the reality is that within our current health system, the onus is really on patients to take control,” she said.

“Often, it’s very difficult to know what costs you will be hit with because it depends on so many factors unique to your particular cancer and the treatments you have.

“However, if you speak to your doctor and the fees are too high; ask them whether you can be treated in a public hospital or if there are any other options.

“If you have private health insurance, you need to call your health insurer and find out what you will get back if you undergo a certain procedure, and what you are covered for.”

Associate Professor Gordon said 74 per cent of the sampled cancer patients had private health insurance, which meant the data was not representative of the broader Australian population.

She said her next priority was to analyse and identify the out-of-pocket costs paid by a larger sample of patients undergoing general procedures in both public and private settings.

The post Cancer a hit to the heart and the back pocket, says Queensland research appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
New genetic markers could help predict onset of debilitating eye disease http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/05/new-genetic-markers-help-predict-onset-debilitating-eye-disease/ Mon, 14 May 2018 22:11:25 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=13361 Scientists have discovered 19 new genetic markers that could predict whether a person is at a higher risk of eye disease. The genome-wide study of 25,000 people almost doubles the number of known genetic variants that affect how thick the cornea is and brings the total number of known variants to 45. The findings were…

The post New genetic markers could help predict onset of debilitating eye disease appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Scientists have discovered 19 new genetic markers that could predict whether a person is at a higher risk of eye disease.

The genome-wide study of 25,000 people almost doubles the number of known genetic variants that affect how thick the cornea is and brings the total number of known variants to 45.

The findings were published today in Nature Communications.

The head of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Statistical Genetics laboratory, Associate Professor Stuart MacGregor, said corneal thickness was associated with a debilitating condition called keratoconus, that that affected the front surface of the eye.

“This extra information about the genetic basis of the variation in corneal thickness, which is a major risk factor for eye diseases like keratoconus, will help us to better screen for this debilitating condition in the future,” he said.

Keratoconus results in a thinning of the cornea, which causes a conical bulge that distorts the vision. In severe cases, sight may only be restored through corneal transplant surgery.

Associate Professor MacGregor said the discovery of new genetic markers could help predict a person’s future risk of corneal thinning.

“Corneal thickness is remarkable because it is one of the most heritable human traits,” he said.

“If we mapped more of the genes for corneal thickness, you could predict at birth what a person’s corneal thickness would be with very high accuracy because there are almost no environmental factors that determine it.

“The discovery of additional genetic markers will help us to reliably predict which people are at a higher risk of keratoconus in the future, which is very exciting.”

He said the findings also enhanced understanding of the genetics of connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome and brittle corneal syndrome.

“We are finding there is a lot more overlap between what some of these genetic markers do and what was previously thought,” he said.

“These discoveries are exciting because they tell us what features could be important in the development of new treatments.”

Associate Professor MacGregor said the research did not find an association between low corneal thickness and glaucoma.

“It was long thought that having a thin cornea was a risk factor for developing glaucoma,” he said.

“However, our findings indicate that there is probably no link between corneal thickness and glaucoma. Instead, it’s likely the thickness of the cornea affects our ability to measure the pressure of the eye. High eye pressure can be an indicator of glaucoma.”

The study used data from more than 2000 Australian twins who took part in QIMR Berghofer’s Q-Twin study, which started in 1990, as well as from other collaborative international studies.

It also included data from the general population, as well as from patients of either European or Asian ancestry who had keratoconus or glaucoma.

The QIMR Berghofer-led research was a collaboration with geneticists from around the world.

The post New genetic markers could help predict onset of debilitating eye disease appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Researchers uncover how infant viral infections become childhood asthma http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/05/researchers-uncover-how-infant-viral-infections-become-childhood-asthma/ Wed, 09 May 2018 22:38:52 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=13059 Brisbane scientists have discovered why children who were hospitalised with a severe viral respiratory infections as babies are more likely to develop asthma. The head of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Respiratory Immunology laboratory, Associate Professor Simon Phipps, said the research could pave the way for the development of an early preventative treatment to stop…

The post Researchers uncover how infant viral infections become childhood asthma appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Brisbane scientists have discovered why children who were hospitalised with a severe viral respiratory infections as babies are more likely to develop asthma.

The head of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Respiratory Immunology laboratory, Associate Professor Simon Phipps, said the research could pave the way for the development of an early preventative treatment to stop the onset of asthma in children.

The findings have been published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Associate Professor Phipps said severe viral respiratory infections in infants were associated with a higher risk of developing asthma by the age of five.

He said for the first time scientists were able to identify why that was.

“We have been able to show that young mice with a respiratory virus produce a cell messenger called prostaglandin 2 that actually makes it harder for their immune system to clear the viral infection,” he said.

“In our studies, the prostaglandin 2 messenger played a role in turning down the production of anti-viral proteins.

“We found that if we blocked the cell messenger prostaglandin 2 from reaching its target, the mice were able to clear the virus more quickly.”

Associate Professor Phipps said his group validated the findings by demonstrating that the levels of prostaglandin 2 were higher in the upper airways of babies hospitalised with the respiratory virus.

He said researchers then tested the cell messenger in the laboratory using human epithelial cells, which line the airways.

“When we infected the cells with the virus in the laboratory, it increased the enzyme that produces the cell messenger prostaglandin 2 and therefore increased the amount of prostaglandin 2 overall,” he said.

“When we blocked the ability of the cell messenger to reach its target, the virus was again able to be cleared more quickly.

“This particular type of cell messenger has been linked to driving allergic inflammation in asthma.

“Our research suggests that in addition to stopping the bad inflammation caused by the prostaglandin 2, blocking it also restores the immune system’s ability to fight a viral infection and reduces the risk of an asthma attack, which is often triggered by viral infection.”

Associate Professor Phipps said respiratory syncytial virus infections caused 200,000 deaths worldwide each year, mainly in children under five.

He said the identification of the cell messenger prostaglandin 2 as playing a key role in the development of bronchiolitis and asthma could lead to the development of new drug targets.

“We didn’t know previously that this particular cell messenger was involved in suppressing the immune system of infants with respiratory viruses,” he said.

“If we block this cell messenger from reaching its target, we now believe that infants will have a better chance of clearing the virus and rates of illness should reduce.

“We also believe that blocking it could help to reduce the risk of a child developing asthma later in life.”

Associate Professor Phipps said there was even potential to investigate early preventative treatments.

“Our understanding of why kids get asthma is becoming clearer. Asthma risk is much higher where a child had a severe viral infection as a baby,” he said.

“If we can identify those infants early and administer a treatment that blocks the production of the cell messenger prostaglandin 2, we can help them get better faster, and potentially avoid a future diagnosis of asthma.

“This is still a long way from being developed into a treatment for human infants, but it is a significant and exciting first step.”

The Brisbane-led research involved collaborators from across Australia and New Zealand.

Associate Professor Phipps’s research was supported by an Australian Infectious Disease Research Excellence award, an NHMRC grant, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.

The post Researchers uncover how infant viral infections become childhood asthma appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Global genetic study of skin colour unearths 14 new genetic markers http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/05/global-genetic-study-skin-colour-unearths-14-new-genetic-markers/ Tue, 08 May 2018 22:42:25 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=13053 Scientists have doubled the number of genetic markers known to influence the ability of a person’s skin to tan. Researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute took part in the major international study, which collected data from 176,678 people with European ancestry. The findings were published today in Nature Communications. Associate Professor David Duffy from…

The post Global genetic study of skin colour unearths 14 new genetic markers appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Scientists have doubled the number of genetic markers known to influence the ability of a person’s skin to tan.

Researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute took part in the major international study, which collected data from 176,678 people with European ancestry.

The findings were published today in Nature Communications.

Associate Professor David Duffy from QIMR Berghofer’s Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory, said the study found 14 new genetic variants that predisposed people of European heritage to tan more darkly after exposure to the sun.

He said 10 of those genetic markers had never previously been identified as having an impact on skin, hair or eye colour.

“The skin’s tendency to burn rather than tan is a major risk factor for skin cancer and melanoma,” Associate Professor Duffy said.

“By identifying the genetic variants responsible for determining whether we tan or not, we can potentially identify new targets for treating skin cancer and melanoma in the future.

“One of the most interesting features is that we were already studying two of these new genes for risk of melanoma but we did not know they also influenced skin colour.”

Associate Professor Duffy said the research also confirmed six previously identified genetic markers that influence a person’s ability to tan rather than sunburn.

He said they were previously known to be involved in the production of the skin pigment melanin.

“Seven of the new genetic markers are also involved in the production of melanin, so it is not surprising these genetic variants may influence skin colour,” Associate Professor Duffy said.

“Now that we have identified these markers that influence skin colour, we may be able to assess whether and to what degree they play a role in determining a person’s risk of developing skin cancer.”

The study used data from more than 5000 Australian twins and their families who took part in QIMR Berghofer’s Q-Twin study, which started in 1990.

It also used data from 121,296 individuals of European ancestry from the UK Biobank.

Associate Professor Duffy said the findings would be important in better predicting an individual’s risk of developing skin cancer and melanoma.

“In earlier work, we have shown that if you have darker skin but you are carrying light skin colour genes, your risk of melanoma is closer to people with lighter skin,” he said.

He said the findings also provided insights into the genetic basis of evolution of skin colour.

“The further early humans moved away from the equator, the lighter their skin colour became,” Associate Professor Duffy said.

“This is a change likely driven by the difficulty of making Vitamin D in the skin when sunlight is less intense.”

The study was a collaboration between multiple international research bodies, including King’s College London, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Florida and the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

The post Global genetic study of skin colour unearths 14 new genetic markers appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation supports QIMR Berghofer’s research http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/05/cure-brain-cancer-foundation-supports-qimr-berghofers-research/ Thu, 03 May 2018 08:57:48 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12956 Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has launched its Capacity Building Program – a new initiative to rapidly increase brain cancer research capacity in Australia to more quickly find cures for the disease, which kills more than 1200 Australians each year. The program will do so by encouraging more world-class researchers to work in brain cancer, while…

The post Cure Brain Cancer Foundation supports QIMR Berghofer’s research appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has launched its Capacity Building Program – a new initiative to rapidly increase brain cancer research capacity in Australia to more quickly find cures for the disease, which kills more than 1200 Australians each year. The program will do so by encouraging more world-class researchers to work in brain cancer, while increasing the resources at their disposal, beginning with two new infrastructure grants.

Grant recipients, Dr Bryan Day from the Translational Brain Cancer Research Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer and Dr Guillermo Gomez from the Centre for Cancer Biology will each receive $400,000 over the next four years to fund their innovative and potentially lifesaving projects.

Dr Day will focus on creating new methods of enabling researchers to quickly discover if new drugs are effective against brain tumours in brain cancer models. If successful, the project will dramatically speed up the progress of effective drug discoveries from lab models to clinical trials in people.

“This grant will allow my team and I to share our resources and technical expertise with other research teams, accelerating the pace of brain cancer research Australia-wide,” said Dr Day.

“We hope these important collaborations will help us to develop new treatments for these aggressive tumours.”

Dr Gomez’s project will use brain tumour samples extracted from patients during surgery, then grow them in the lab in organoids – healthy brain tissue models grown from genetically engineered brain cells.

Working with a patient’s actual tumour, grown in organoids which mimic human brain tissue, researchers hope to more quickly test the effectiveness of different drugs on an individual’s brain tumour.

“Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s Infrastructure Grant will enable us to expand the organoid cancer project through the development of a platform resource for drug and genetic screening that will be the ultimate personalised treatment for brain cancer patients,” Dr Gomez said.

“To accelerate treatments to Australian patients, we need more researchers working on rapidly increasing brain cancer survival, which unaaceptably has barely improved in more than 30 years,” said Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s CEO Michelle Stewart.

“The Infrastructure Grants announced today are an important step in making that happen by boosting brain cancer research capacity in Australia.

“The grants will mean more world-class researchers, with greater resources, focusing on brain cancer, accelerating breakthroughs and ultimately finding a cure faster.”

The Infrastructure Grants are part of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s $20 million commitment to the Australian Brain Cancer Mission (ABCM) – a $100 million Government-backed plan to double brain cancer survival in ten years. Since the ABCM launched in October last year, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has awarded $3.23 million to ABCM-related projects, including Infrastructure and Innovation Grants, and Early Career Fellowships.

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has so far invested $9 million in capacity building projects and encouraged greater collaboration between researchers. The Foundation hopes the program announced today will enable it to meet its ambitious mission to increase brain cancer survival from the current 20 per cent to 50 per cent by 2023.

The post Cure Brain Cancer Foundation supports QIMR Berghofer’s research appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Volunteers sought for genetic depression risk research http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/04/volunteers-sought-genetic-depression-risk-research/ Thu, 26 Apr 2018 23:46:05 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12866 The biggest study of its kind has allowed researchers to identify genetic risk factors associated with major depression, providing new insights for prevention and treatment. Australian researchers, including Professor Naomi Wray from The University of Queensland and Professor Nick Martin from QIMR Berghofer, are now seeking volunteers who have been diagnosed with clinical depression to…

The post Volunteers sought for genetic depression risk research appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
The biggest study of its kind has allowed researchers to identify genetic risk factors associated with major depression, providing new insights for prevention and treatment.

Australian researchers, including Professor Naomi Wray from The University of Queensland and Professor Nick Martin from QIMR Berghofer, are now seeking volunteers who have been diagnosed with clinical depression to help build on this study to make further advances into the genetics behind the common disorder.

Professor Wray, from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Queensland Brain Institute, helped lead the international study, which identified 44 genetic variants associated with major depression – 30 of which were previously unknown.

“We showed that we all carry genetic variants for depression, but those with a higher burden are more susceptible,” she said.

“We know that many life experiences also contribute to the risk of depression, but identifying the genetic factors opens new doors for research into the biological drivers.

“We also want to understand the factors that contribute to differences between people in their responses to anti-depressants, so we need to recruit more people into studies that analyse the genomes of depression sufferers.”

The Australian Genetics of Depression Study is seeking volunteers who have been diagnosed with clinical depression to complete an online survey and potentially give a saliva sample.

One of the study’s lead researchers is Professor Nick Martin from QIMR Berghofer. He said the study’s aim was to identify additional genetic markers of depression.

“Depression is very complex from a genetic point of view, so the more people we can recruit into the study, the more in-depth information we will have to advance our understanding of this common, but debilitating, disease,” Professor Martin said.

“Our new study involves asking people about their experience with anti-depressants with the aim of finding genetic factors that contribute to the effectiveness of these medicines for individuals.

“Our eventual aim is to develop improved treatments and also to recommend anti-depressants for individuals, based on their genetic make-up, to avoid the potentially long and distressing process of experimenting to find the correct medicine and dosage.”

The initial study, which was co-led by Professor Patrick Sullivan from the University of North Carolina, and involved researchers from QIMR Berghofer, has been published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics.

It analysed DNA from more than 135,000 people with major depressive disorders and more than 344,000 control samples.

To volunteer for the Australian Genetics of Depression Study, or to learn more, visit https://www.geneticsofdepression.org.au

 

Media contacts:

Bronwyn Adams, communications@imb.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 2134.

Siobhan Barry, Siobhan.Barry@qimrberghofer.edu.au, +61 7 3845 3919/0458 650 200.

The post Volunteers sought for genetic depression risk research appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
QIMR Berghofer and Dubai Health Authority join forces for cancer research and treatment http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/04/qimr-berghofer-and-dubai-health-authority-join-forces-for-cancer-research-and-treatment/ Tue, 24 Apr 2018 01:56:16 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12834 QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Dubai Health Authority have joined forces in a historic agreement to help secure the future of cancer research and treatment in Dubai. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at a meeting between the two parties in Dubai yesterday, in the presence of Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for…

The post QIMR Berghofer and Dubai Health Authority join forces for cancer research and treatment appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Dubai Health Authority have joined forces in a historic agreement to help secure the future of cancer research and treatment in Dubai.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at a meeting between the two parties in Dubai yesterday, in the presence of Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Jackie Trad.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Frank Gannon, said the international partnership with the Dubai Government would establish strong and collaborative research and training links in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and in time could be extended to other diseases relevant to Dubai.

He said the partnership would focus on clinical research and translation and on participating in developing a world-leading healthcare system using precision medicine techniques developed by QIMR Berghofer.

“Our researchers have been able to develop genome-based diagnostic approaches that have the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis, treatment and management of cancer,” Professor Gannon said.

“This has been recognised internationally and, in this particular case, by the Dubai Health Authority.”

Professor Gannon said that under the agreement, the two parties would work together using new technologies, such as the integrated Cancer Recurrence Score (iCRS) test developed by the head of QIMR Berghofer’s Personalised Medicine Team, Associate Professor Fares Al-Ejeh.

He said the iCRS was a new test that calculated a risk score of cancer progression for patients to help inform decisions on treatment pathways.

“The partnership between QIMR Berghofer and the Dubai Health Authority to accelerate precision medicine technologies designed by our scientists, will see them fully integrated into the Dubai health system,” Professor Gannon said.

“This agreement is incredibly valuable and provides unique opportunities for our researchers.

“By working together, we will progress this field of genomics and precision medicine more quickly and vastly improve the treatments currently available for devastating diseases like cancer.”

Queensland’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said it was a significant partnership, which demonstrated the world-class standard of research happening in the state.

“The agreement will see the creation of a framework for remarkable opportunities to be explored and developed by both parties,” Ms Trad said.

“It really is incredible to see a Queensland institute taking the lead here in Dubai when it comes to building stronger health systems that will support the lives and health of many people.”

Dubai Health Authority Director General, His Excellency Humaid Al Qatami, said the MOU was an important step, especially as it documented DHA’s relationship with one of the world’s leading research institutes, which would in turn support the authority’s drive to achieve a qualitative shift in medical research, clinical medicine and diagnostics, as well as professional development programs, training and medical education.

The MoU, he added, would also aid in transferring knowledge and exchanging experiences between the two parties.

QIMR Berghofer’s Associate Professor Al-Ejeh, who secured the relationship with the Dubai Health Authority, said the agreement was an exciting first step.

“The centralised healthcare system in Dubai provides a unique opportunity to implement our precision medicine technologies rapidly to benefit patients, while ensuring maximum engagement from clinicians who are on the ground,” he said.

The MOU will remain current for three years, during which time more specific actions will be agreed upon.

The post QIMR Berghofer and Dubai Health Authority join forces for cancer research and treatment appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Associate Professor Steven Lane appointed new Head of Cancer Program http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/04/associate-professor-steven-lane-appointed-new-head-cancer-program/ Tue, 17 Apr 2018 06:01:16 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12769 Leukaemia researcher and clinical haematologist Associate Professor Steven Lane has been appointed as the new Head of the Cancer Program at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Associate Professor Lane will perform his new role in addition to his duties as Group Leader of the Gordon and Jessie Gilmour Leukaemia Research laboratory, where his team is…

The post Associate Professor Steven Lane appointed new Head of Cancer Program appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Leukaemia researcher and clinical haematologist Associate Professor Steven Lane has been appointed as the new Head of the Cancer Program at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Associate Professor Lane will perform his new role in addition to his duties as Group Leader of the Gordon and Jessie Gilmour Leukaemia Research laboratory, where his team is investigating new treatments for myeloid disorders.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO Professor Frank Gannon welcomed Associate Professor Lane’s appointment.

“Steven Lane is dedicated to finding new cures for leukaemia in his laboratory here at QIMR Berghofer, and, significantly for our research translation activities, he is also a working clinical haematologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital where he helps patients on the frontline,” he said.

“He obtained his medical degree from the University of Queensland and subsequently finished his clinical training right here in Brisbane.

“Shortly afterward, he undertook a research fellowship at Harvard Medical School in the United States where he focused on finding new treatments for acute myeloid leukaemia.

“He is an outstanding clinician and researcher and I am thrilled he has agreed to be our new Head of the Cancer Program.

“The Cancer Program at the Institute is performing transformative work.

“The combination of Associate Professor Lane’s research and clinical expertise will be an asset to this team.”

The post Associate Professor Steven Lane appointed new Head of Cancer Program appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
New biomarker for prostate cancer could help guide treatment pathways http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/04/new-biomarker-prostate-cancer-help-guide-treatment-pathways/ Sun, 15 Apr 2018 23:48:39 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12679 Scientists believe they may have unearthed a potential new way of testing how advanced a patient’s prostate cancer is and whether it is responding to treatment. QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute senior research officer Dr Carolina Soekmadji said the presence of certain molecules in patients with advanced prostate cancer could provide a more accurate picture…

The post New biomarker for prostate cancer could help guide treatment pathways appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Scientists believe they may have unearthed a potential new way of testing how advanced a patient’s prostate cancer is and whether it is responding to treatment.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute senior research officer Dr Carolina Soekmadji said the presence of certain molecules in patients with advanced prostate cancer could provide a more accurate picture of their prognosis than the current test.

Dr Soekmadji said testing for those molecules could provide an individualised map of prostate cancer progression that was more precise than the current, widely-used prostate-specific antigen (PSA) serum test.

She said the molecules, known as extracellular vesicles (EVs), were potential biomarkers that provided information on the lipid, protein and nucleic acid content within a patient’s cells.

“The development of new biomarkers that can give doctors an accurate and up-to-date picture of treatment response for advanced prostate cancer is vital,” Dr Soekmadji said.

“This is particularly so because one of the commonly used treatment regimes, Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), has so many unpleasant side-effects.

“By looking at these molecular biomarkers within the body, doctors could potentially gauge what level of treatment a patient needs.

“We also hope that clinicians may one day be able to use this information to tailor therapies to suit the biological background and make-up of each individual patient.”

Dr Soekmadji said the presence of EVs provided a source of accurate genetic and environmental information on the progression of advanced prostate cancer.

She said the secretion of a particular type of EV molecule was found to be higher in patients with prostate cancer than it was for men who had an enlarged but benign prostate.

She said the same molecules were found in higher numbers in patients with advanced prostate cancer, alongside circulating tumour cells (CTCs).

Dr Soekmadji said a high CTC count indicated a poorer prognosis for prostate cancer that had already spread around the body.

“While further investigation is needed, this tells us that the presence of EV molecules could be important not only as a prostate cancer biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis but in order to make a more informed prediction of treatment response,” Dr Soekmadji said.

“It is still early days and more work needs to take place, but our indicative findings are very promising.”

She said the newly-identified biomarkers for prostate cancer could theoretically be measured via a simple blood test.

Dr Soekmadji said the identification of new biomarkers that could give a more complete picture of prostate cancer progression, was an exciting prospect.

She said ADT, a common hormonal treatment for advanced prostate cancer, often caused multiple side-effects including hot flushes, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, the development of breast tissue, abdominal obesity and osteoporosis.

“Many patients with advanced prostate cancer do not respond well to Androgen Deprivation Therapy, while others do experience treatment benefits,” she said.

“If we can identify who is more likely to respond well, and who is likely to respond poorly, we can recommend a particular treatment regime that is ultimately better for the patient.

“Our next step is to measure EV levels and identify molecular trends in a larger group of patients with advanced prostate cancer.”

Dr Soekmadji said she was already working with researchers in Melbourne to identify additional biomarkers in a larger pool of men with advanced prostate cancer.

The QIMR Berghofer research, published in the journal The Prostate, was conducted with the University of Melbourne, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland University of Technology, the Translational Research Institute, the Australian Prostate Cancer Collaboration Bioresource and Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands.

Dr Soekmadji was supported by a Movember Foundation grant and by the United States Department of Defence Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

The post New biomarker for prostate cancer could help guide treatment pathways appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>