More genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer uncovered

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, give to charity, Types of cancer, QIMR, Endometrial Cancer, QIMR Berghofer, Queensland Institute for Medical Research

Cancer researchers at ACRF grant recipient, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, along with research teams from the University of Cambridge and Oxford University, have discovered five new gene regions that increase a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus. It is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women, with nearly 2,500 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2016.

The study was led by the head of the Molecular Cancer Epidemiology laboratory at QIMR Berghofer, Associate Professor Amanda Spurdle, and has been published in Nature Genetics.

Associate Professor Spurdle said the findings helped to paint a clearer picture of the genetic causes of endometrial cancer in women who do not have a strong family history of cancer.

“Up until now, we have only known about four gene regions in women in the general population that contribute to the risk of developing endometrial cancer,” Associate Professor Spurdle said.

“In this study, we have identified another five, bringing the total to nine. This finding doubles the number of risk regions we know of, and therefore significantly increases our knowledge of the genetic drivers of endometrial cancer.”

The study also looked at how the identified gene regions might be increasing the risk of other cancers, and what the implications would be for the future treatment of endometrial cancer patients.

Interestingly, several of the gene regions we identified in the study were already known to contribute to the risk of other common cancers.

“As we develop a more comprehensive view of the genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer, we can start to work out which genes could potentially be targeted with new treatments down the track,” Associate Professor Spurdle said.

“In particular, we can start looking into whether there are drugs that are already approved and available for use that can be used to target those genes. Our genetic findings may also be useful, together with our knowledge of other risk factors, to identify women at risk of endometrial cancer so they can be regularly checked and be alert to the signs and symptoms.”

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute by providing three grants, totalling AUD 6.65million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

The original news post was published on the QIMR Berghofer website.

Scanning centre to transform disease research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, fundraising, QIMRThe diagnosis and treatment of cancers, mental health disorders and conditions such as dementia is set to reach new heights in Brisbane with the launch of a $24 million facility that combines state-of-the-art equipment with world-class research and clinical expertise.

The Herston Imaging Research Facility has officially been launched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Facility Medical Director Dr Liz Kenny said the new centre was one of the most exciting clinical imagery ventures in the Asia Pacific.

“It will become the centre of clinical research in Queensland through the use of cutting-edge imaging equipment and will contribute to the understanding of diseases and the development of new drugs and treatment therapies,” she said.

Dr Kenny, who is also the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s senior radiation oncologist, said the facility featured hybrid scanners which combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT), allowing molecular processes and anatomical images to be captured simultaneously.

“This results in a faster and more efficient process for researchers, clinicians and patients,” she said.

The facility is a collaboration between The University of Queensland, the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, the Queensland University of Technology and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, with Siemens as an industry supporter.

University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Hoj said the infrastructure made Queensland a better environment for the development of new patient treatments.

“It will add value to other recent partnership developments like the Queensland-Emory Drug Discovery Initiative and the Centre for Advanced Imaging, and give Queensland innovators a sharper edge in the global race for new preventions, treatments and cures,” he said.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation Chairman, Mr Tom Dery, said the facility would help Queensland’s world-class cancer scientists pursue important cancer research discoveries.

“The future of cancer prevention and treatments depends on Australia’s best researchers having access to the cutting-edge resources and technologies such as these,” he said.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute mental health and complex disorders leader Professor Michael Breakspear said the imaging facility would enable work to begin to categorise and discover different subtypes of mental health disorders.

“We’re exploring ways to diagnose mental health disorders before the symptoms appear,” he said.

“To do this, we need to develop new diagnostic tests using medical imaging technology.”

QUT Faculty of Health Assistant Dean (Research) and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Deputy Director Professor Greig De Zubicaray said the scanning capability of the new facility would contribute to understanding of the function and structure of diseases such as cancer and stroke.

“With this imaging technology we can detect disease, we can monitor progress and we can see whether or not we can predict recovery,” he said.

The Herston Imaging Research Facility is on the Herston health campus, near the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and major medical research facilities.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Unveils ACRF Centre for Comprehensive Biomedical Imaging at QIMR Berghofer

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Funding research, give to charity, QIMRX QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research, QIMR Berghofer Cancer Research Institute, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland, Professor Frank Gannon, Russell Caplan, QIMR Berghofer, ACRF Centre for Comprehensive Biomedical Imaging, Queensland Premier

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiled Queensland’s newest weapon in the fight against cancer this week, opening the ACRF Centre for Comprehensive Biomedical Imaging at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

A $2.6 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation has funded the three state-of-the-art microscopes housed by the new lab – a significant and exciting advancement for the institutes researchers.

Ms Palaszczuk said the centre would allow QIMR Berghofer to unlock new techniques which would dramatically accelerate our understanding of cancer.

“To beat cancer, we need both brilliant minds and cutting edge technology – as we can see today, QIMR Berghofer has both,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“This imaging facility will build on Queensland’s global reputation for research excellence.”

“And it builds on my government’s Advance Queensland strategy – to not only consolidate and grow our research base, but also develop investment opportunities to diversify and strengthen our economy.”

QIMR Berghofer Director and CEO Professor Frank Gannon said the new imaging equipment would allow the Institute to build on its world-leading immunotherapy program.

In recent days QIMR Berghofer has launched Phase II clinical trials of an immunotherapy treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and announced a major agreement with a global pharmaceutical company to discover cancer antibodies.

“Thanks to the generosity and vision of the ACRF we will be able to take our research to a new level of understanding and target cancer with greater accuracy as our scientists continue to deliver outcomes which have real consequences for patients,” says Professor Gannon.

The ACRF CCBI consists of three crucial pieces of imaging equipment: a multiphoton intravital microscope for imaging of live cells; a laser scanning confocal microscope for high resolution imaging of cancer at the molecular level; and a spinning disc confocal microscope for imaging signalling pathways in cancer cells.

The new equipment will also allow QIMR Berghofer scientists to study the process by which cancers metastasise, or spread, to distant tissues.

ACRF Trustee Russell Caplan said that since the ACRF was established in 1984 it has awarded more than $103.9 million to 34 research centres across Australia.

“Eleven of those grants ($23.3 million) have been distributed to research centres in Queensland and three of them have directly funded projects at QIMR Berghofer ($6.65 million).”

“These grants are awarded on the basis of research excellence and are subject to a rigorous approval process overseen by a Medical Research Advisory Committee made up of some of Australia’s most respected researchers, so it says a lot about the level of work being conducted at QIMR Berghofer,” Mr Caplan said.

To learn more about the other grants that have been awarded to leading research institutes across Australia click here.

International study improves test for people at risk of bowel or endometrial cancers.

cancer researchA more accurate way to identify those at a high risk of bowel or endometrial cancer has been discovered by cancer scientists in Queensland.

Researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute led a global effort to refine genetic information in an international database, meaning GPs will have the ability to access the publicly-available data and give patients a truer picture of their familial risk.

This global project arose from the issues many GPs and patients seemed to be having from inconclusive results when tested for Lynch Syndrome – an inherited condition that increases the risk of bowel and endometrial cancer.

Associate Professor Amanda Spurdle, who led the project, said, “The model – using the expertise of researchers and clinicians across the world with a particular knowledge of a rare disease – essentially turns indecipherable sequencing data into real knowledge that can have a clinical benefit.”

“As a result of this work, doctors can more conclusively say whether those patients have Lynch Syndrome, and therefore whether they are at a higher risk of getting another cancer.

“The reverse of that is that we may also ease the worry of some people who’ve had inconclusive results.”

The research team involved Professor Maurizio Genuardi from the University of Florence and Professor Finlay Macrae from the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The International Society for Gastrointestinal Tumours (InSiGHT) committee pooled data from across the world on thousands of different gene changes.

“Through this collaborative effort, we can be confident of our counselling advice to families, offer them testing for the gene fault, and, if they carry it, help them closely monitor their health and take preventative measures,” Associate Professor Spurdle said.

The findings of this project can be found in esteemed research journal Nature Genetics.

The ACRF is proud to have supported QIMR Berghofer Medial Research Institute, having provided more than $6 Million in research grant funding since 2002.

Six more ovarian cancer risk genes found

Close-up of microscopeQIMR Berghofer and the University of Cambridge have led an international study, finding six new gene regions which increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. The number of ovarian cancer risk susceptibility regions identified has therefore increased, from 12 to 18.

Although these risk gene variants, or “typos”, are much more subtle than the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, incorporating them into tests which predict a woman’s ovarian cancer risk would be more precise.

Head of QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer Program, Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench said “Individually, each of these ‘typos’ increases the risk of cancer by a very small amount.”

“However, if a woman carries a large number of these ‘typos’ her risk of developing ovarian cancer may be as high as that conferred by mutations in BRCA1 or 2.”

QIMR Berghofer scientists are now part of an even bigger study which is likely to double the number of gene regions known to increase ovarian cancer risk.

“Once we identify each of these genetic ‘typos’, the next challenge is to find out the way they work – both individually and together,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.

“Understanding how each of these variants works will eventually lead to an understanding how ovarian cancer develops, and how to develop better reduction medications and treatments.”

The ACRF is proud to have provided over $6 million in grants funding to QIMR Berghofer since 2002, for technologies and infrastructure with the power to speed up lifesaving discoveries across many cancer types.

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.

Continue reading “Skin Cancer Prevention – Promising Results”

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.

Continue reading “Promising results in world-first trials for aggressive brain cancer treatment”

Study reinforces HPV vaccine is saving lives

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Queensland have found young women who received the HPV vaccine are far less likely to develop high-risk abnormalities that can lead to cervical cancer.

They used Queensland Health datasets to show these women had a 46 % lower risk of developing high-grade changes in the cervix, compared with women who had not been vaccinated.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of gynaecological cancer, killing more than 200 Australian women every year.

Continue reading “Study reinforces HPV vaccine is saving lives”

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.

Continue reading “Millions in funding unveiled for Australia’s best cancer research innovations”

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”

Top Australian researchers bid for ACRF grants

Millions of dollars in ACRF funding will soon be awarded to Australia’s top cancer research teams, with this week heralding our final stage of assessments.

Today and tomorrow, lead researchers from five shortlisted institutes will meet with the ACRF’s esteemed Advisory Committee (which is chaired by Professor Ian Frazer AC) for the final interviews which will ultimately determine the successful research teams.

Shortlisted applicants include two institutes from Sydney: the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, and the Children’s Medical Research Institute, as well as the QIMR Berghofer Cancer Research Institute in Brisbane, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide, and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

Continue reading “Top Australian researchers bid for ACRF grants”

Millions in private funding for top cancer research projects in Australia

Five of the best cancer research projects in the world stand to receive millions of dollars in funding,  following the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s announcement today of its  shortlist for 2013 research grants.

From twelve research proposals, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has shortlisted five for further assessment as a result of the world-class standard of proposed works, and the significant potential for this research to achieve major breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure.

Continue reading “Millions in private funding for top cancer research projects in Australia”

Our shortlist of the most innovative cancer research projects in Australia

The ACRF is very excited with the quality of the five shortlisted applications for our grants in 2013. Some of the very best researchers in the world feature in these applications.

These final five applications represent a need for more than $20 million in advanced technologies and facilities. They cover many types of cancer, not just one or two.

Our highly esteemed Medical Research Advisory Committee selected these particular projects for further review on two grounds – the world-class standard of the proposed research, and the potential to achieve major breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure.

That committee, led by Professor Ian Frazer, will now, through a detailed interview process,  recommend to our Board the best of the best for ACRF funding. The final awardees will be publicly announced on 13 November this year.

Every dollar we receive in donations this year will go to research that has the power to beat cancer. Please peruse the below, to find out where ACRF donations could be making a difference very soon.

Continue reading “Our shortlist of the most innovative cancer research projects in Australia”

Triple-Negative Breast cancer stopped in its tracks with new treatment trial

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research have run early studies of a new combination of treatments for breast cancer, with 100% success rate.

The treatment targets late-stage triple negative breast cancers, for which the average survival rate is only 12 months. This type of cancer is most common in young women and accounts for approximately 20% of breast cancer cases in Australia.

Unlike other cancer cells, triple negative breast cancers don’t have any of the three usual surface receptors, which would normally be the target of treatment.

But this latest treatment trial shows that targeting radiation specifically to an overload of proteins (known as EGFR) together with a dramatically reduced dose of chemotherapy is effective in stopping both the cancer growth, and its recurrence. Continue reading “Triple-Negative Breast cancer stopped in its tracks with new treatment trial”

Simple blood test could revolutionise treatment plans for Hodgkin Lymphoma patients

Queensland researchers are paving the way towards less invasive and more personalised treatment plans for patients with the blood cancer type, Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Based at Queensland’s Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), the research team have developed a blood test which detects levels of a key protein – known as CD163 – during and after Chemotherapy.

Importantly, CD163 shows elevated levels in Hodgkin lymphoma patients’ serum, and it decreases when tumours shrink after treatment.

“Testing for these protein levels, using a simple blood test, could show doctors whether the treatment is working, whether they can reduce the doses, or, conversely, whether they need to increase the doses to beat the cancer,” said Ms Kimberly Jones, who co-led the research study together with Professor Maher Gandhi. Continue reading “Simple blood test could revolutionise treatment plans for Hodgkin Lymphoma patients”

Aggressive brain tumours to be newly targeted with Leukaemia therapy

Current cancer researchA new target for treating aggressive brain tumours has been discovered by researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), and better still, a therapy for this target is already in the advanced stages of development.

Originally, the protein EphA3 was discovered in 1992 for its role in promoting Leukaemia cancer cells. This finding was made by Professor Andrew Boyd at QIMR, and clinical trials have since commenced to test a treatment which targets that particular cancer cell activity.

Now, years later, Professor Andrew Boyd together with Dr Bryan Day have found the same protein is implicated in up to 50% of cases of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), particularly in the most aggressive cases.

“This protein is something we can directly target with a treatment we’ve already developed,” said Dr Day.

“It’s early days, but we know cells which express the protein EphA3 can be eradicated in the laboratory with this treatment, so it’s very encouraging.” Continue reading “Aggressive brain tumours to be newly targeted with Leukaemia therapy”

Melanoma Genome Project will map out future for skin cancer cures

Melanoma cancer researchNSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, the Hon. Jillian Skinner has today officially launched the Australian Melanoma Genome Project, an ambitious cancer research program that aims to identify the common gene mutations that lead to melanoma.

The $5.5 million project could take 2-5 years and is being undertaken by a research coalition of teams from the Melanoma Institute Australia, the University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW Health Pathology and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

More than 500 melanoma tumour samples will be screened and analysed in order to determine common genetic characteristics for this most deadly and prevalent type of cancer. Continue reading “Melanoma Genome Project will map out future for skin cancer cures”

Two world-class research centres to open in QLD

Mr Tom S DeryI’m thrilled to announce the official openings of two world-class cancer research laboratories in Queensland next Tuesday [19 July, 2011]:

It is a true mark of the superior research being undertaken in the Sunshine State that these laboratories are opening on the same day to guests from all over the country.

In 2007 ACRF provided $2.7 million and $3.2 million respectively in seed funding to establish both of these facilities. Less than four years later, the labs are operating, and more importantly, they are making significant breakthroughs in our understanding of cancer and the ways we can prevent, diagnose, treat and defeat this terrible disease. Continue reading “Two world-class research centres to open in QLD”

Professor Whitelaw: Fellow of Australian Academy of Science

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) would like to congratulate Professor Emma Whitelaw for her election into the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) last week.

Professor Whitelaw received this prestigious Fellowship in recognition of her work in epigenetics – including the study of complex diseases resulting from gene-environment interactions (such as cancer). Continue reading “Professor Whitelaw: Fellow of Australian Academy of Science”

Researchers discover genes that increase melanoma risk

Queensland researchers believe they may have found an important factor in pinpointing who may be more susceptible to melanomas.

Scientists from the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Brisbane (QIMR) have found two genes, which together, double a person’s risk of developing melanomas.

Professor Nick Hayward – who, with Professor Emma Whitelaw and her QIMR team, is among the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF)’s recent grant recipients – told ABC radio recently that Australia has the highest incidence of this most lethal form of skin cancer in the world, with more than 10,000 new cases rep

“We found two new genes that increased a person’s risk of melanoma. If you carry a variant of either one, you have about a 25 per cent increased risk of developing melanoma,” he said.

“If you have two variants at each of the two genes, then you have about a double, or twice the risk.”

Most people would associate melanoma with exposure to sunlight. But scientists have known that genes are involved in a person’s likelihood of developing the disease.

“What we found today are the first two gene variants that increase the person’s risk of melanoma, that actually act through increasing the number of moles on a person,” he said.

What is the impact of this discovery?

“It now gives us a sort of entree, if you like, into understanding the pathways that this regulated in melanoma development and also in mole formation, and how those two processes are related.

“With knowledge of the pathways that this regulated, hopefully at some stage in the future we might be able to determine possible new therapies that actually could counteract whatever is wrong in those pathways.”

But Professor Hayward says the new research doesn’t mean people should be rushing out to be genetically tested or screened if they are susceptible.

“The actual risk associated with either one of these gene variants is quite small,” he added.

“But what we’re hoping is that now giving us an extra two gene variants that we can put towards some kind of diagnostic or screening tests in the near future, let’s say, two to three years away where we might have a small collection of gene variants.

“There could be 10 or 20 different variants that we could look at simultaneously and together we can calculate a person’s susceptibility to melanoma.”

ACRF Chief Executive David Brettell said the breakthrough highlighted the Foundation’s focus on funding “ground breaking” work which will have a global impact on cancer.

“Last year we awarded The Queensland Institute for Medical Research $2.7 million in funding for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Centre for Epigenetics. Our support reflects the brilliant work done by this team, who are considered to be world leaders in their field. QIMR is one of the best cancer research facilities in the world,” said Mr Brettell.

“This result is exciting and is one very important step on a road which could lead to further understanding and ultimately prevention of one of the most devastating of cancer types.”

orted every year.

Professor Hayward’s international research was published in the journal Nature Genetics recently.

Continue reading “Researchers discover genes that increase melanoma risk”