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International gene study identifies five new melanoma risk regions

ACRFX Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Cancer Research, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, melanoma, cancer scientists Australia, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Doctor Matthew Law, Melanoma Genetics Consortium, genome wide association study, GenoMEL, research discoveries

An international study led by QIMR Berghofer cancer researcher, Dr Matthew Law, has uncovered five new gene regions which increase a person’s risk of melanoma.

Melanoma is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and although there are effective treatment options available to those who detect it early, the five-year survival rate of patients with more advanced cases is only 10%.

“Each day around 30 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma, and from that more than 12 hundred a year lose their battle with the disease,” says Dr Law. “So each little piece of knowledge that we uncover is crucial as it affects the overall picture and helps us to continue to develop and improve the ways we detect and treat it.”

The study found five new regions of the genome associated with melanoma and formally confirmed two more that were suspected to be risk factors.

This research takes the total number of known melanoma gene risk regions to 20. “Most of the major gene risk regions previously identified are associated with pigmentation, or the number of moles a person has. The five new gene regions we’ve discovered are from different pathways, so it’s yet another piece to add to the melanoma puzzle.”

“Out of the new regions that were found, the most interesting biologically, was one involved with the maintenance, development and length of the telomeres. Telomeres are like shoelace caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes from damage. We know that loss or damage to telomeres is a key factor in the development of cancer cells.”

Over 12 thousand melanoma samples were used for the project, making it the largest genome wide association study (GWAS) to identify variations associated with melanoma.

The international collaboration of researchers from QIMR and the Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL) are now preparing for an even larger study which is expected to find more markers of risk.

“Our long term goal is to find drugs that modify the pathways that we’re identifying – that way we’ll be able to alter specific activity and bring it back to normal.”

“It’s very exciting to find something new about a serious condition – that’s the joy of doing this kind of research. Working in science is all about discovering new things that haven’t been seen or understood before and hopefully add a bit more knowledge to the world.”

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has received $6.65 million in grants from the ACRF which has funded technology to progress research in colon, breast, ovarian, prostate, leukaemia, lymphoma and melanoma.

The original article was published on the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research website. 

World first brain cancer trial raises hopes for patients and families.

59910457_m1320934-pancreatic_cancer_-300x168A world-first trial will test an experimental brain cancer treatment which targets the surface of tumour cells expressing a cancer protein called EphA3.

The drug has already shown successful results in phase I clinical trials for leukaemia patients, and cancer scientists are now keen to test its effectiveness on solid tumours.

This world-first clinical trial on patients suffering from recurrent Glioblastoma (GBM) resulted from major discoveries by a team of scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and Monash University.

Dr Bryan Day and Dr Brett Stringer, who led the research at QIMR Berghofer, said the study builds on work carried out by the collaborative research team for over more than a decade.

“The protein – EphA3 – was discovered by QIMR Berghofer scientist Professor Andrew Boyd in 1992,” said Dr Day.

Dr Stringer said the upcoming GBM trial would be the first test of the drug against solid tumours, as opposed to blood cancers.

“Unfortunately most new drugs tested for GBM have returned disappointing results and patients have very few treatment options,” he said.

“Once we begin recruiting, this study will have an immediate impact by giving patients access to an innovative treatment which has shown great potential in laboratory testing.”

GBM is the most common primary adult brain cancer and is almost always fatal, killing about 1,000 Australians every year.

Dr Day and Dr Stringer said this trial gives researchers an excellent start to developing a much-needed treatment for patients with aggressive GBM.

“The study will determine how patients tolerate the drug and how their tumours respond,” they said.

“There is also a very important imaging component with brain scans to be performed to detect the borders of the tumours and determine how much of the drug crosses from the blood into the brain to reach the tumour.”

Skin Cancer Prevention – Promising Results

A study by researchers at Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has revealed some very promising statistics about one of Australia’s most deadly cancers – Melanoma.

With an estimated 12,000 people diagnosed with melanoma in 2012 it is Australia’s third most common cancer type.

The study, which analysed melanoma cases among 15 to 24 year olds in Queensland from 1982 to 2010, has shown there has been a five per cent a year decline among teenagers and young adults developing the disease from the mid-1990s to 2010.

Additionally, for people aged 20 to 24, the rate has fallen from 25 cases per 100,000 in 1996 to 14 per 100,000 in 2010.

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Promising results in world-first trials for aggressive brain cancer treatment

A major breakthrough in the treatment of aggressive brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), using immunology has been made by scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant brain cancer, diagnosed in about 800 Australians every year with, unfortunately very low five year survival rates.

The research used immunology to attack the cancer, and found that of the study participants lived much longer than the six-month prognosis normally given to a patient with recurrent GBM. Some patients showed no signs of disease progression at all.

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Powerful predictor discovered for aggressive breast cancers will ensure more effective treatment

A new, more powerful predictor for aggressive breast cancers, discovered by Dr Fares Al-Ejeh at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, will give women a more accurate prognosis and ensure they are receiving the most effective treatment for their breast-cancer type.

Every woman’s breast cancer has its own individual gene fingerprint – a specific combination of genes. Dr Al-Ejeh’s research has found new gene “signatures” which can predict likely survival across breast cancer cases.

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$8.4 Million in funding for some of the best cancer research innovations in Australia!

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has acknowledged the promising future of cancer research in Australia, announcing $8.4million in grants to progress the work of four of the country’s most innovative research initiatives.

In an exciting first, the $8.4m will be shared between research teams from four separate Australian states. The funding will provide each research team with state-of-the-art technologies and facilities, the scope of which have the potential to make significant discoveries in the understanding and management of cancer.

CEO of the ACRF, David Brettell says “Never before have we so many such world-class proposals for cancer research, with applications for our grants this year totalling almost $50 million.”

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Millions in funding unveiled for Australia’s best cancer research innovations

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has announced the recipients of their annual Cancer Research Grants, collectively awarding $8.4m towards the newest innovations in Australian cancer research.

In its quest to beat cancer, the ACRF has awarded almost $95m to Australian cancer research institutes, making it the largest private funding body for cancer research in Australia.

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New therapy in trial minimises side effects for leukaemia patients

Australian researchers are trialing a drug which could bring new hope to people fighting adult leukaemia.

This drug, known as KB004, targets a protein which is only found in cancerous stem cells. It is undetectable on normal cells, so when the therapy is administered, it targets only cancerous cells, minimising side effects.

A team of Australian collaborators from ACRF-funded research institutes, including Dr. Martin Lackmann of Monash University, Melbourne; Dr. Andrew Boyd of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, and Dr. Andrew Scott of Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Melbourne, realised the potential of this protein – called EphA3 – as a drug target some years ago and successfully tested an antibody in their laboratories.

The drug KB004 has since been developed from this antibody, and clinical trials have commenced.

Continue reading “New therapy in trial minimises side effects for leukaemia patients”