Next-generation diagnostic innovations for improved diagnosis and prognosis, including pan-cancer signatures, genome analytics and non-invasive diagnostics
QIMR Berghofer has a number of diagnostic and precision medicine programs predominantly in cancer and infectious disease. These innovations include a melanoma diagnostic and patient response panel, an oesophageal cancer diagnostic, and an exosome signature to stage lung cancer. Leveraging our considerable expertise in genome-wide association studies, we have also discovered genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma.
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.
Personalised Tumour Profiling
Lung cancer is responsible for almost one in five cancer deaths in Australia, leading to an estimated 8,500 deaths annually. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 80% to 85% of all lung cancer diagnoses. QIMR Berghofer researchers have developed a world-first blood-based multi-protein signature capable of accurately predicting clinical outcome in multiple independent NSCLC patient cohorts. This signature is contained in small circulating nano-vesicles termed exosomes. Proteomic assessment of exosome content identified multiple upregulated proteins under the hypoxic conditions known to exist during early tumour development.
2D culture models have failed to recapitulate the complex biology and pathophysiology of human disease. This contributes towards drug candidate failures at the costly clinical phases of development. Researchers at QIMR Berghofer have developed a novel 96-well platform for the fabrication, culture and analysis of contractile, 3D human cardiac organoids. This culture platform is adaptable to other organoid cultures including skeletal muscle and neural tissue.