Diagnostics Collaborations

NEXT-GENERATION DIAGNOSTIC INNOVATIONS FOR IMPROVED DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS

Exosome Cancer Diagnostic

Early detection of cancers is essential, as survival is greatly enhanced with a diagnosis at an early stage. Exosomes are small membrane bound vesicles that are released by all cells, including cancer cells. The protein content of exosomes is dependent on the cell-of-origin and it is now emerging that exosomes represent a viable source of material for diagnostic and prognostic purposes. QIMR Berghofer researchers have discovered and developed a blood-based, multi-protein exosomal biomarker assay capable of identifying cancer, at an early stage, and to determine, to some extent, the cancer type as well. Using a combination of the signature proteins, we were able to generate an excellent separation of healthy individuals and cancer patients, demonstrating that the diagnostic exosome signature is capable of identifying early-stage cancer patients, possibly prior to the spread of metastases.

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MELMIR-7

The overall 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 91%, however metastasis of cancerous cells to other organs can reduce cure rates to less than 15%. There are currently no blood tests which can accurately diagnose early stage melanomas. QIMR Berghofer researchers have identified a panel of seven miRNA biomarkers (MELmiR-7) in serum that can provide a sensitive (93%) and specific (>82%) diagnostic for melanoma. MELmiR-7 is also expressed in tissue, so a simple microbiopsy could distinguish between an atypical mole and a melanoma that requires surgery. We are now seeking licensing or investment partners with experience in cancer diagnostics to co-develop and commercialise this technology.

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Predicting Responsiveness to Immunotherapy

Cancer abrogates and disables normal immune function. Recent breakthroughs and encouraging clinical results with various immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated tremendous potential to control cancer by immune activation. However, resistance to immunotherapy is a major problem. Researchers at QIMR Berghofer have discovered a novel molecular switch in PDL1 called nPDL1-PTM1. nPDL1-PTM1 controls a mechanism of resistance for immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Identifying nPDL1-PTM1 positive and negative patients is a novel diagnostic approach that enables the stratification of patients into responders and resistant to immunotherapy using liquid biopsies.

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