QIMR Berghofer http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au Medical Research Institute Thu, 26 Apr 2018 10:50:18 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 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.

]]>
Australian vaccine innovation set to strike out Zika and Chikungunya in one go http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/australian-vaccine-innovation-set-strike-zika-chikungunya-one-go/ Tue, 27 Mar 2018 03:10:02 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12672 In a highly successful collaboration with Sementis Limited and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, researchers at the University of South Australia have developed new technology set to deliver vaccines for many diseases and conditions, more cheaply and efficiently. The new approach has taken the world’s first and most successful vaccine against smallpox – genetically altered it to…

The post Australian vaccine innovation set to strike out Zika and Chikungunya in one go appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
In a highly successful collaboration with Sementis Limited and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, researchers at the University of South Australia have developed new technology set to deliver vaccines for many diseases and conditions, more cheaply and efficiently.

The new approach has taken the world’s first and most successful vaccine against smallpox – genetically altered it to improve its safety and efficacy – and created a new vaccine platform able to deliver multiple antigens to guard against serious infectious diseases, including the mosquito-borne zika and chikungunya viruses.

The new, altered vaccine, named the Sementis Copenhagen Vector (SCV), has been tested in preclinical proof of concept studies and been shown to provide protection against Chikungunya infection and its virus-induced complications and Zika virus – importantly preventing transmission of the virus to the foetus during pregnancy as well as a persistent infection of the testis.

The results of the research have been published today in the prestigious journal  Nature Communications and leader of the UniSA research team, Professor John Hayball said the outcome is the result of a highly effective collaboration with Sementis and QIMR Berghofer over several years.

“We have now proved this is a very effective delivery vehicle for a vaccine protecting against multiple infectious diseases,” Professor Hayball said.

“Working together, we will continue to explore the potential of this platform to deliver multiple disease vaccines.

“This work puts us well on the way to delivering health benefits to millions of people around the world by providing more effective and accessible vaccines.

“The potential applications of this Australian research for a range of diseases and other conditions is enormous.”

Professor Andreas Suhrbier, QIMR Berghofer Inflammation Biology group leader, said preclinical proof-of-concept studies showed that Sementis’ new vaccine afforded protection against chikungunya infection and prevented persistent virus-induced arthritic complications.

“In addition, these studies have shown that it can afford protection against Zika virus infection and, very importantly, prevent the transmission of the virus during pregnancy to the foetus and persistent infection of the testis,” he said.

Advance Queensland research fellow Dr Natalie Prow, who received a grant from the Queensland Government to test the vaccine at QIMR Berghofer, said it was her hope that human clinical trials would be the next step.

“The SCV vaccine would be a welcomed medical countermeasure in countries where both chikungunya and Zika virus coinfection exist,” she said.

In the next phase of this work, Sementis has been invited to use the preclinical services of the renowned US Government National Institute of Health’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) laboratories to evaluate the SCV vaccines in a non-human primate vaccination study.

The study will be funded by NIAID and bring the vaccine one step closer.

Sementis’ Chairman, Maurice O’Shannassy, says the production of a viral vectored vaccine in a CHO cell substrate is a game-changer in terms of the improved economics of vaccine production and providing vaccines on a global scale.

“Previous vaccinia-based vaccine vector systems have used chicken embryo fibroblasts for manufacture, which is associated with a number of manufacturing and safety issues,” he said.

“Being able to manufacture a vectored vaccine using CHO cells is a world first and offers a number of advantages in the event of an outbreak, including rapid manufacture scale-up and cold chain (refrigeration) independent distribution capacity.”

Zika virus is a new and emerging virus that is transmitted by mosquitos where infection often causes no or mild symptoms similar to a very mild form of dengue fever.  But in some adults, Zika virus can lead to Guillain Barre syndrome, a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

Perhaps the most devastating manifestation of Zika virus infection is the array of congenital abnormalities in the foetuses and infants of women infected while pregnant.

Zika virus infection can persist in the male reproductive tract, where infected males can transmit the virus to sexual partners during this period of persistent infection, which dramatically increases the risk that an infected male inadvertently transmits the virus to a pregnant partner.  Currently, there are no antiviral drugs or vaccines for Zika virus.

Chikungunya is a viral infection caused by the chikungunya virus, also transmitted by mosquito, the very same mosquitos that transmit Zika virus.

In some cases, Chikungunya is asymptomatic – persons do not exhibit symptoms, but those with symptoms usually suffer from sudden fever and severe muscle and joint pain and in a few cases chronic joint pain may last for several weeks or months and may be accompanied by eye, gastrointestinal, neurological, and heart complications. Chikungunya is rarely fatal and treatment includes supportive care of symptoms as there are no antiviral treatments or vaccines available.

The post Australian vaccine innovation set to strike out Zika and Chikungunya in one go appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Unlock the mystery of science at the World Science Festival Brisbane http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/unlock-mystery-science-world-science-festival-brisbane/ Fri, 23 Mar 2018 02:02:12 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12644 Follow your curiosity to QIMR Berghofer’s street stall when World Science Festival Brisbane rolls into town this month. QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Frank Gannon, said the Institute was offering a range of fun and educational activities for the young and old at the Street Science! Precinct at South Bank. He said the Institute…

The post Unlock the mystery of science at the World Science Festival Brisbane appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Follow your curiosity to QIMR Berghofer’s street stall when World Science Festival Brisbane rolls into town this month.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Professor Frank Gannon, said the Institute was offering a range of fun and educational activities for the young and old at the Street Science! Precinct at South Bank.

He said the Institute was proud to bring the wonders of science to the community.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our amazing researchers and scientists to share their expertise and passion for science with all Queenslanders,” Professor Gannon said.

This year’s theme will delve into what makes us human, how humanity has advanced and how science is working to ensure we live better lives for longer.

Attendees have the opportunity to get involved by joining in discussions with leading scientists, workshops, hands-on activities and visual displays.

Professor Gannon said it promised to be a fantastic weekend of science-filled fun.

“If you have ever wanted to see the difference between diseased and healthy cells, or learn about immunotherapy – the most promising cancer treatment of our time – this is your chance,” he said.

“We will have incredible medical illustrations on display and young children will have the chance to design a human body wheel, where they can learn about the six different body systems.

“We will also showcase our uniquely Queensland history as a medical research institute, as well as some information on our latest research discoveries.”

Professor Gannon said interested students had the chance to take part in hands-on workshops as part of the Apprentice Program at QIMR Berghofer.

“Apprentices donned a lab coat at our world-leading medical research institute to learn how to analyse DNA and trace the inheritance of genetic material,” he said.

World Science Festival Brisbane is an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering, maths and the arts.

QIMR Berghofer senior microscopist Dr Nigel Waterhouse and medical illustrator Madeleine Kersting Flynn have travelled to Gladstone, Chinchilla and Toowoomba to share personal stories about their careers in science as part of the festival.

The Brisbane Street Science! Precinct will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday 24 and 25 March.

To see the full program of events, visit: https://www.worldsciencefestival.com.au/2018-program/

The post Unlock the mystery of science at the World Science Festival Brisbane appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
9 in 10 Australians don’t know when they need sun protection http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/9-10-australians-dont-know-need-sun-protection/ Sun, 18 Mar 2018 20:53:32 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12592 Australians could be unknowingly increasing their skin cancer risk, with new data released by Cancer Council today showing that 40 percent of Australians are still confused about which weather factors cause sunburn. The study also shows that fewer than one in 10 Australians understand that sun protection is required when UV levels are 3 or…

The post 9 in 10 Australians don’t know when they need sun protection appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Australians could be unknowingly increasing their skin cancer risk, with new data released by Cancer Council today showing that 40 percent of Australians are still confused about which weather factors cause sunburn.

The study also shows that fewer than one in 10 Australians understand that sun protection is required when UV levels are 3 or above.

The release of the new research comes as sunscreen and sun protection experts gather at the Sunscreen Summit, convened by the Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Centre, in Brisbane today to discuss strategies to improve Australians’ use of sun protection.

Heather Walker, Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s National Skin Cancer Committee said the latest National Sun Protection Survey results showed a clear gap in Australians’ knowledge.

“This new research shows that Australians are still very confused about what causes sunburn, which means people aren’t protected when they need to be,” she said.

“In summer 2016-17, 24 per cent of Australian adults surveyed incorrectly believed that sunburn risk was related to temperature, while 23 per cent incorrectly cited conditions such as cloud cover, wind or humidity.

“It’s important for us to reinforce the message that it’s Ultraviolet Radiation that is the major cause of skin cancer – and that UV can’t be seen or felt.

“It’s a particularly important message this time of year as we head into the Easter break. In Autumn, temperatures in some parts of the country are cooling, but UV levels right across Australia are still high enough to cause serious sunburn and the skin damage that leads to cancer.”

Professor David Whiteman, convenor of the Sunscreen Summit and head of the Cancer Control group at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said that despite years of public education, encouraging Australians to protect their skin was an ongoing challenge.

“These findings show that very few Australians know when to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays,” he said.

“This is clearly a concern as it’s likely that Australians are relying on other factors, like the temperature or clouds, to determine when they need to slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses.

“There is overwhelming evidence that, if used correctly, sunscreen prevents skin cancer – yet at the moment many Australians don’t even really understand when it’s required, and many are neglecting to use it altogether.

“We also know from previous research that 85 percent of Australians don’t apply it correctly.

“By bringing together Australia’s best and brightest sunscreen experts to Brisbane, the Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Centre is hoping to develop new strategies to educate Australians about sunscreen’s role in sun protection and find new ways to improve public understanding of how to prevent skin cancer.”

Cancer Council’s SunSmart app provides local UV alerts and sun protection times and can be downloaded free on the App Store or Google Play.

When UV levels are 3 or above, Cancer Council recommends:

  • Slip on protective clothing
  • Slop on SPF30 or higher, broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
  • Slap on a broadbrim hat
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact Hollie Jenkins on (02) 8063 4109 (this number is monitored inside and outside of business hours) or media@cancer.org.au

For media enquiries about the Sunscreen Summit contact Brooke Baskin on (07) 3362 0280 or 0427 179 216 or media@qimrberghofer.edu.au

About the National Sun Production Survey

The National Sun Protection Survey was conducted via phone over the summer of 2016-17. Over 3,600 Australian adults were interviewed. Conducted every three to four years by Cancer Council, the survey provides a perspective on changing trends in Australians’ sun protection behaviours and rates of sunburn over the past decade.

Adults’ knowledge and awareness of the UV Index

Measures most useful for determining risk of sunburn  
UV exclusively 61%
Temperature (any mention) 24%
Other (cloud cover, wind conditions, humidity, any mention) 23%
The UV Index value at which sun protection is required  
UV Index value of 3 8%
Other UV Index Value or can’t say response 92%

 

About the Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Research Centre

The Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Research Centre is a joint collaboration of The University of Queensland and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

The post 9 in 10 Australians don’t know when they need sun protection appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Stunning drawings capture the tiny worlds within us http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/stunning-drawings-capture-tiny-worlds-within-us/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:45:59 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12583 The body’s hidden secrets are revealed through the stunning artwork of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s biomedical illustrator, Madeleine Kersting Flynn. Toowoomba residents have the chance to hear about Ms Flynn’s amazing job when she visits as part of World Science Festival Brisbane’s regional program this weekend. Ms Flynn said biomedical illustration was a way…

The post Stunning drawings capture the tiny worlds within us appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
The body’s hidden secrets are revealed through the stunning artwork of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s biomedical illustrator, Madeleine Kersting Flynn.

Toowoomba residents have the chance to hear about Ms Flynn’s amazing job when she visits as part of World Science Festival Brisbane’s regional program this weekend.

Ms Flynn said biomedical illustration was a way of bringing to life the way living things worked, and the processes that made humans function.

“There are two roles I play in my work: one is as a science communicator, to illustrate the intricate processes of life so they can be understood at a glance,” she said.

“The other is as an artist, to make ugly things attractive and easy to look at.

“I think the role of biomedical illustrators will only grow as healthcare and pharmaceutical industries continue to expand. In my opinion, we are the ultimate science communicators and our illustrations really are worth a thousand words.”

World Science Festival Brisbane is an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering, maths and the arts.

The festival’s regional program gives Queenslanders outside of the southeast corner the opportunity to get involved by joining in discussions with leading scientists, workshops, hands-on activities and visual displays.

This year’s theme will delve into what makes us human, how humanity has advanced and how science is working to ensure we live better lives for longer.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Frank Gannon, said the Institute was proud to help bring the wonders of science to communities outside of Brisbane.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our amazing researchers and scientists to share their expertise and passion for science with all Queenslanders,” he said.

Join Ms Flynn and other science enthusiasts at the Cobb + Co Museum at 1 pm on Friday 16 March.

For more information visit worldsciencefestival.com.au/2018-program/

The post Stunning drawings capture the tiny worlds within us appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Scientists identify new possibility for untreatable blood cancer http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/scientists-identify-new-possibility-untreatable-blood-cancer/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:58:46 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12580 Scientists have discovered a new biomarker that could help to unlock the medical mystery behind an untreatable blood cancer that affects mostly older Australians. QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Immunology in Cancer and Infection senior scientist Professor Mark Smyth and clinician researcher Dr Kyohei Nakamura worked with colleagues in France to make the discovery about…

The post Scientists identify new possibility for untreatable blood cancer appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Scientists have discovered a new biomarker that could help to unlock the medical mystery behind an untreatable blood cancer that affects mostly older Australians.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Immunology in Cancer and Infection senior scientist Professor Mark Smyth and clinician researcher Dr Kyohei Nakamura worked with colleagues in France to make the discovery about multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma grows in the bone marrow and affects around 1800 Australians every year. The average age of diagnosis is 70 years.

The study found a particular molecule called IL-18 suppressed the immune system to help create a bone marrow environment where the cancer was more likely to grow.

The study analysed the impact of IL-18 on 152 patients with multiple myeloma and found strong evidence that high levels of the molecule were associated with poorer survival.

Professor Smyth said IL-18 was responsible for promoting the immune suppressive function of a particular kind of white blood cell (granulocyte) in the bone marrow.

He said the resulting suppression hindered another kind of immune cell, known as a T cell, from doing its job of finding and destroying cancer cells.

“IL-18 has traditionally been recognised as a growth factor for immune cells because it was thought to promote the activity of the white blood or ‘natural killer’ cells that protect us from infection and cancer,” he said.

“We’ve turned that thinking on its head with our discovery that IL-18 is actually a pro-tumour factor, which causes virtually the opposite effect.

“IL-18 is critical in the progression of multiple myeloma by enabling one part of the immune system to suppress another.”

Professor Smyth said bone marrow IL-18 levels were a potential biomarker for predicting a person’s disease prognosis as well as a potential target for new multiple myeloma treatments.

“Our research shows IL-18 could be an independent prognostic factor, which is very significant,” he said.

“Practically speaking, the higher a person’s IL-18 levels in the bone marrow, the greater the likelihood their immune system is suppressed. That means their prognosis is not as good.”

Dr Nakamura said the findings could one day influence the way patients were treated for multiple myeloma.

“If a person’s prognosis is not as good because they have higher levels of IL-18 in the bone marrow, a doctor might choose to treat the patient more aggressively,” he said.

Dr Nakamura said the discovery was vital to building a better understanding of what caused inflammation in the bone marrow that leads to the development of multiple myeloma.

“Multiple myeloma creates a really inflammatory microenvironment inside the bone marrow,” he said.

“We want to understand the molecular processes underpinning that inflammation.

“This will help us to determine whether this biology is unique to the bone marrow and multiple myeloma, or whether it is also present in other cancers.”

Dr Nakamura said there was even potential to one day work with pharmaceutical partners interested in targeting IL-18 with a unique antibody or small molecule inhibitors.

He said a test for IL-18 in the bone marrow of patients would need to be performed at the point of diagnosis by taking a fluid sample from inside the bones.

The QIMR Berghofer-led research involved multiple collaborators from across the globe and within Australia.

The work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Cure Cancer Australia and Cancer Australia through the Cancer Australia Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme.

It was published in Cancer Cell today.

 

The post Scientists identify new possibility for untreatable blood cancer appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Online risk predictor to help identify people at high risk of melanoma http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/online-risk-predictor-help-identify-people-high-risk-melanoma/ Sun, 11 Mar 2018 18:56:35 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12506 Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have developed an online test for people aged 40 and over to predict their risk of developing melanoma over the next 3.5 years. Professor David Whiteman and Dr Catherine Olsen developed the risk predictor using data from nearly 42,000 people aged from their forties to seventies. It calculates…

The post Online risk predictor to help identify people at high risk of melanoma appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have developed an online test for people aged 40 and over to predict their risk of developing melanoma over the next 3.5 years.

Professor David Whiteman and Dr Catherine Olsen developed the risk predictor using data from nearly 42,000 people aged from their forties to seventies. It calculates the results based on seven risk factors for melanoma. These are age, sex, ability to tan, number of moles at age 21, number of skin lesions treated, hair colour and sunscreen use.

The melanoma risk predictor was developed from the world’s largest study of skin cancer and has proven highly accurate in tests. A research paper about the development and performance of the risk prediction tool has been published today in the prestigious Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Professor Whiteman said members of the public could now use the risk predictor by visiting www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/melanomariskpredictor.

“At the moment, cancer control agencies don’t recommend population-wide screening programs for melanoma. It’s up to individuals to talk to their doctors about whether they need regular skin checks,” Professor Whiteman said.

“This online risk predictor will help identify those people with the highest likelihood of developing melanoma so that they and their doctors can decide how to best manage their risk.

“Regular screening of those at highest risk may help to detect melanomas early, and hopefully before they’ve spread to the lower layers of the skin and other parts of the body.

“Importantly, in this study, we found that people’s actual risk of melanoma was quite different to their own assessment. This highlights the importance of getting personalised advice on your melanoma risk, because it could well be different to your perceived risk.”

Professor Whiteman said the team now planned to trial the online melanoma risk predictor among skin cancer doctors and their patients to test how it performs in the clinic.

Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia. Cancer Australia predicts that in 2018 1,905 people will die from melanoma and 14,320 new cases will be diagnosed nationally.

“Last year a QIMR Berghofer study found that melanoma cost the Australian healthcare system $201 million in 2017,” Professor Whiteman said.

“We hope that by identifying those who might benefit from regular skin checks, the online melanoma risk predictor will help to ease pressure on the healthcare system.”

While other melanoma risk predictors have been developed previously, they were based on research with different study designs and were less accurate.

“We have tested our online risk predictor thoroughly and found that it is accurate at predicting a person’s risk of developing melanoma,” Professor Whiteman said.

“Nonetheless, people should be aware that the tool provides only an estimate of future risk and it is not a substitute for getting their skin checked by a doctor.

“We encourage people to use it as a general guide, and if it says you have a high risk of melanoma, we strongly encourage you to visit your doctor and discuss whether a skin check would benefit you.

“Even if you have a low to medium risk, you still need to be sun safe. Most Australians are at a higher risk of melanoma than people in other countries due to the combined effects of fair skin and very high levels of sunlight.

“If you’re spending time outdoors this weekend, don’t become a statistic: remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.”

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

The post Online risk predictor to help identify people at high risk of melanoma appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
QIMR Berghofer comes to Gladstone for World Science Festival Brisbane http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/2018/03/qimr-berghofer-comes-gladstone-world-science-festival-brisbane/ Thu, 01 Mar 2018 23:58:26 +0000 http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/?p=12442 Central Queenslanders will have the opportunity to discover and explore the tiny and complex worlds that exist within us when QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute travels to Gladstone for World Science Festival Brisbane. QIMR Berghofer’s Dr Nigel Waterhouse will talk about the tiny worlds that come to life under his microscope when he discusses his…

The post QIMR Berghofer comes to Gladstone for World Science Festival Brisbane appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>
Central Queenslanders will have the opportunity to discover and explore the tiny and complex worlds that exist within us when QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute travels to Gladstone for World Science Festival Brisbane.

QIMR Berghofer’s Dr Nigel Waterhouse will talk about the tiny worlds that come to life under his microscope when he discusses his amazing job this weekend.

Dr Waterhouse said he would explain how modern microscopes help to reveal the complex and amazing world of tiny cells that make up the human body.

“Being a microscopist in medical research is a bit like being an astronomer who explores deep space,” he said.

“Instead of looking at the stars, we use lenses and light to look at the trillions of tiny cells in the body to understand what they do, what happens if something is wrong and how we might fix any problems.

“Sometimes I get to see new things that people have never seen before. Even better still, I get to use some pretty complex and sophisticated microscopes in the name of science.”

World Science Festival Brisbane is an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering, maths and the arts.

The festival’s regional program gives Queenslanders outside of the southeast corner the opportunity to get involved by joining in discussions with leading scientists, workshops, hands-on activities and visual displays.

This year’s theme will delve into what makes us human, how humanity has advanced and how science is working to ensure we live better lives for longer.

QIMR Berghofer’s Director and CEO, Frank Gannon, said the Institute was proud to help bring the wonders of science to communities outside of Brisbane.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our amazing researchers and scientists to share their expertise and passion for science with all Queenslanders,” he said.

Hear from scientists with cool jobs like Dr Waterhouse and take part in fantastic science-themed activities at the Community Day event at Gladstone Entertainment and Convention Centre from 9 am to 4 pm, Saturday March 3.

School students can hear about other cool science activities at the free student day at the Gladstone Entertainment and Convention Centre on Friday March 2.

For more information visit www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/qimr-berghofer-wsf/

The post QIMR Berghofer comes to Gladstone for World Science Festival Brisbane appeared first on QIMR Berghofer.

]]>