Discovery of four pancreatic cancer sub-types raises hope for future treatments.

Cancer ResearchACRF funding has enabled a new discovery which will improve pancreatic cancer treatments of the near future.

Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), and QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research collaborated with researchers from the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre in Scotland, to analyse the complete genetic code of pancreatic tumours in 100 patients.

The team identified and mapped out the extensive and damaging genetic changes – finding four key subgroups which differentiate pancreatic tumours by their gene arrangements: ‘stable’, ‘locally rearranged’, ‘scattered’ and ‘unstable’.

Professor Sean Grimmond from IMB said, “Having access to these detailed genetic maps could help doctors in the future determine which chemotherapy drug a patient should get, based on their cancer’s genome.”

This discovery already promises to improve the treatment of at least one of these groups after the researchers noticed an existing class of chemotherapy drugs, used to treat some breast cancers, may also work on patients whose pancreatic tumours have the “unstable” genomes.

The team of researchers realised the significance of their discovery when they found four out of five study patients with this genetic signature responded to the DNA-damaging drugs.

“Two of them had an exceptional response, which happens very, very rarely in pancreatic cancer. Their tumours went away completely,” said the co-leader of the group, Andrew Biankin, who conducted the work at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Dr Nicola Waddell from QIMR Berghofer (previously from IMB) said pancreatic cancer remained one of the most complex cancers to treat, with a survival rate that has not improved considerably in the last 50 years.

“Our study identified four major genomic subtypes in pancreatic cancer, revealed two new driver genes not previously associated with pancreatic cancer, and reaffirmed the importance of five key genes,” said Dr, Waddell.

The team at IMB plan to begin a clinical trial in the UK, selecting patients for targeted treatments based on their genomic testing.

The ACRF is proud to have supported each the Australian research centres involved in this study with funding over many years. 

Gene discovery could stop spread of cancer

Research-Image4_JLockLHammond1Scientists from The University of Queensland’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience (IMB) have discovered a gene called ccbe1 that could be targeted to help stop the spread of cancer.

Cancer scientist from IMB, Dr Ben Hogan, led a team that discovered how the gene works to.

“Lymphatic vessels carry lymph fluid around the body, transporting important substances like white blood cells, dietary fats and filtering excess fluid from our tissues back into our blood stream,” Dr Hogan said.

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Mapping pancreatic cancer genes reveals hidden secrets for treatment

PancCurrent cancer researchreatic cancer has long been considered a mysterious, deadly disease. It has the highest mortality rate of all the major cancers, and it is one of the few cancer types for which survival has not substantially improved over the last 40 years.

But two Australian researchers can now tell us why. They know how to fix it, and ACRF funding will play a pivotal role in the realisation of their treatment plan.

Professors Sean Grimmond from Brisbane’s Institute for Molecular Biosciences (IMB), and Andrew Biankin from the newly opened Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Sydney (formerly of the Garvan Institute) led an international team of researchers towards this ground-breaking discovery.

They sequenced the genes of 100 pancreatic tumour cells and, in order to determine the genetic changes which lead to the cancer, they compared their results to normal tissue. Continue reading “Mapping pancreatic cancer genes reveals hidden secrets for treatment”

IMB ACRF Dynamic Imaging Facility

Researchers: Luke Hammond & John Lock

About the research:

Our research is focused on visualising dynamic events in cancer and neuronal cells in 4-dimensions (3-dimensions over time). This work includes how proteins are delivered to the cell surface and how the carriers they travel in form detach from the Golgi. We have been using the ACRF Dynamic Imaging Facility to do high-speed 4-dimensional imaging in multiple colours (fluorophores). The technique we are using to do this has not yet been attempted in Australia, and as far as we currently know, in the world.

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