Revolutionary advances in microscopy provide an opportunity to break a roadblock in cancer research

Dr-Rashmi-Priya-CREDIT-UQ's-Institute-for-Molecular-Bioscience - Copy for webA $2.3M grant from Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) is being awarded to The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) today to establish the new ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility (CUFF).

The nation-leading facility will provide cutting-edge imaging capabilities for tracking and visualising cancer. Researchers will be able to see cancer cells grow, spread and respond to drugs in real time. This will help them learn how cancer cells behave and change, and ultimately, develop new treatments to control cancer.

“The need for this facility came from a realisation that we are at a crucial juncture in global cancer research. Despite outstanding developments in understanding the genetic changes in cancer, we still do not understand how these changes cause cancers to grow and spread,” says Professor Brandon Wainwright, Director, IMB.

The researchers at IMB are hopeful that the revolutionary new advances in microscopy will provide the opportunity to break this roadblock.

“Donations received by ACRF help to provide researchers with the most powerful tools available. The three new microscopes at IMB will allow researchers to observe the structure and function of living cancer cells in real time with unprecedented resolution, giving them the opportunity to optimally target and fine-tune cancer treatments. It is our hope that they will assist IMB in making significant contributions to the global understanding of how cancers grow and develop to improve treatments and patient outcomes,” says Professor Ian Brown, CEO of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

The new ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility represents an apex of multidisciplinary efforts. Biologists, physicians and chemists will work together to build a deeper understanding of cancer biology and pioneer new therapeutic approaches to beat the disease.

ACRF has supported cancer research at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience since 1994. Over the past 22 years, ACRF has awarded three grants totalling $4.8M to the institute for research into all types of cancer.

“ACRF is proud to continue to support the cutting-edge research being carried out at IMB. It is our mission to do everything we can to provide Australia’s best researchers with the tools they need to end cancer,” concludes Professor Brown.

The Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove thank ACRF supporters

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Canberra Cancerians, Canberra Cancerians Committee, Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, University of Queensland, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Government House, Canberra Cancerians Gala Dinner, Canberra Cancerians Annual BallThe Canberra Cancerians Committee is one of the most successful fundraising groups for cancer research in Australia. To date, they have raised more than $3.2 million for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Over the years, they have earned a reputation for staging some of the most sought after and glamorous events on the Canberra social calendar, which includes their prestigious annual Gala Dinner. The ACRF is very grateful for the efforts of this incredible group of volunteer fundraisers.

Last week the Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove hosted a reception to recognise the efforts of this committee and thank them for their generous contributions to cancer research over the years. Below you will find his speech.

“On behalf of Lynne and I, I welcome you to Government House. Everyone here knows what a terrible disease cancer is. It kills nearly 50,000 Australians every year.

And we all know someone, a relative or friend, whose life has been deeply affected by it. What we need to do is beat this disease. We often hear the phrase ‘imagine a world without cancer’. Well, wouldn’t that be a great thing? But imagination only goes so far.

A world without cancer can be achieved but it will be achieved through research: world-class research that helps us to better prevent and diagnose cancers and develop new treatments and cures. This is what will beat cancer. This is what will save lives.

This is what drove the ACRF’s founders, Sonia McMahon and Sir Peter Abeles, and it is what lies at the very heart of your work and the work of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Canberra Cancerians, Canberra Cancerians Committee, Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, University of Queensland, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Government House, Canberra Cancerians Gala Dinner, Canberra Cancerians Annual BallToday is about recognising the Canberra Cancerians and the foundation they support.

It is about saying thank you. Thank you for the $121 million in grants provided by the ACRF to hospitals, universities and researchers across Australia. Thank you for helping researchers at the University of Queensland find new ways to detect lung cancer before it gets a chance to spread. Thank you for supporting the John Curtin School of Medical Research to see if our native plants may hold the answers to new cures and treatments.

I could go on and on, but in short it will suffice to say that thanks to supporters like you, the foundation has transformed the scale and scope of cancer research in this country.

So take a moment to be proud of yourselves and all that you do—because what you do is remarkable, it is making a difference and it is appreciated by so many.

You are giving back, you are saving lives and you are part of a wonderful community and a wonderful foundation that is tackling cancer—head on.

And as tough as cancer may be, we’ll beat it, you’ll beat it—because not even cancer is a match for the spirit and determination I see in this room.”- His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)

New melanoma treatment triggers 20-fold improvement

Cancer treatment, skin cancer, melanoma, cancer research, cancer scientists, discoveries,

Studies conducted by cancer scientists at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute (UQDI) have found a new experimental drug called Anisina significantly increases the effectiveness of existing therapies used to treat melanoma.

Around 12,500 Australians are diagnosed each year with malignant melanoma and it is responsible for over 1,500 deaths. It is a notoriously difficult cancer to treat, due to the number of mutations that make the cancerous cells difficult to target.

Errors in the ‘BRAF’ gene have been identified as among the most prominent mutations, and two drugs that target ‘BRAF’ (vemurafenib and dabrafenib) have been developed and approved for use in recent years.

However no targeted therapy exists for the 50% of melanoma patients whose tumors do not have this most prominent mutation. As a result, developing a new drug that is effective across all mutations has become a focus in current cancer research.

Cancer scientists have found that when Anisina is partnered with existing drugs it helps destroy two key parts of the cancer cell’s skeleton, resulting in a 20-fold increase in the anti-cancer effect of the other drugs. This benefits all melanoma patients fighting cancer as the new drug targets melanoma cells regardless of their mutational status.

Nikolas Haass MD PhD conducted the research studies along with Brian Gabrielli PhD.

Dr. Haass said, “These findings from the preliminary screen with Anisina are exciting. Finding a compound that is equally effective against a wide panel of melanoma cell types irrespective of the genetic background has been a long-held goal.”

Justine Stehn PhD, Novogen Anti-Tropomyosin Program Director, said, ” The idea that we now have a means of making melanoma cells respond to potent anticancer drugs is an exciting development for patients with melanoma.”

Plans are now underway to bring Anisine into the clinic by early 2016.

The ACRF is proud to have provided $6.2 million to support the work of UQDI’s world-class researchers in recent years.

This information was originally published by Novogen website and can be found here.

Researchers develop antibody to target cancerous ovarian cells.

59910457_m1320934-pancreatic_cancer_-300x168Researchers from the Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) have developed an antibody drug, in pre-clinical trials, which attacks cancerous ovarian cells.

The drug has been found to successfully target a specific protein which is present only on the surface of cancerous ovarian cells, not on normal ovarian cells.

Associate Professor John Hooper said, “One of the really interesting things is that while normal ovaries don’t produce this protein, the tumours of about 90 per cent of patients do.”

By targeting this protein, the drug will also help limit the serious side-effects of traditional treatments.

“We can attack the cancerous cells while having little impact on the normal ovarian cells, and that reduces the side-effects, which is obviously of great interest to patients” Associate Professor Hooper said.

“Another thing we found with this protein is that it sits on the surface of the cancerous cells so it’s much easier for the drug to target it.”

While the study is still in its early stages, the research team are taking leaps and bounds towards a better understanding of how to attack ovarian cancer, which is currently the second most commonly diagnosed gynaecological cancer in Australia.

In the project’s next phase, researchers will study how the antibody responds to patient samples to further determine its effectiveness.

More information about this discovery can be found here.

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.

Continue reading “Gene discovery could stop spread of cancer”

Non-invasive laser technology could help bypass the need for biopsies

911561-melanomaEngineers and researchers from the University of Queensland have collaborated with the University of Leeds in England to create a new method of skin cancer detection that bypasses the need for biopsies.

Lead researcher, Dr Yah Leng Lim, from The University of Queensland’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, is a key member of the team that developed the ground-breaking laser imaging system that safely provides a different view of skin structure.

Continue reading “Non-invasive laser technology could help bypass the need for biopsies”

$7.5 million in funding to the most promising cancer research in the country!

Funding research - current cancer researchThe Australian Cancer Research Foundation is committed to fighting cancer by funding research, tonight investing a further $7.5 million into the search for the cures.

At the cancer charity’s annual Chairman’s Dinner in Sydney, donors, fundraisers and researchers came together to celebrate the incredible research outcomes made possible through ACRF funding.

They also acknowledged the promising future of cancer research in Australia, as the ACRF made multi-million dollar grants available to three visionary research projects.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, and Brisbane’s Diamantina Institute and Centre for Clinical Research all received a significant funding boost of $3.5 million and $2 million each, respectively. At these cancer research centres, the ACRF will be funding research into rare cancers, as well as facilitating world-class, targeted detection and treatment programmes.

Cell ‘glue’ opens new pathways to understanding cancer

Australian researchers at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland (UQ) have found a novel way in which the proteins that ‘glue’ cells together to form healthy tissues can come unstuck, opening new avenues to understanding how these proteins are disturbed in diseases such as cancer.

Professor Alpha Yap and Sabine Mangold have been studying how cells stick together and the diseases that occur when cells detach when they shouldn’t. In particular, the progression of tumours to advanced stages commonly occurs when cancer cells separate from their tissue of origin. Continue reading “Cell ‘glue’ opens new pathways to understanding cancer”

Australian first cancer research facility opens at UQ

A ‘state-of-the-art’ cancer facility funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) was officially opened at the University of Queensland (UQ) today.

The ACRF Dynamic Imaging Facility for Cancer Biology– the only one of its kind in Australia – was launched by Parliamentary Secretary to the Queensland Minister for Health, Jo-Ann Miller MP.

The $1.2 million laboratory at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) houses two technologically advanced microscope systems which will enable cutting-edge research into cancer biology.

The IMB, is at the forefront of the latest global advances in cancer research” said ACRF Trustee Mr Tim Crommelin in Brisbane today. “The work underway at this new facility is laying the groundwork for the kind of major advances in cancer research that the Australian Cancer Research Foundation is committed to funding,” he said.

Continue reading “Australian first cancer research facility opens at UQ”