Leukaemia Foundation supports Australian Research Innovation | Leukaemia Foundation

Leukaemia Foundation supports Australian Research Innovation

The Leukaemia Foundation has confirmed it will fund priority-driven blood cancer research in some of Australia’s leading research centres through an $800,000 grant to Cancer Australia.

Five innovative projects will benefit from the funding through the Leukaemia Foundation’s ongoing partnership with Cancer Australia – an Australian Government agency that provides grants through its Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS).

“The partnership ensures research supported by the Leukaemia Foundation is high quality, and that Australian researchers have the opportunity to apply and receive Leukaemia Foundation research funding each year,” Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said.

“The Leukaemia Foundation’s commitment to these PdCCRS projects supports part of our ongoing, national research strategy to fund innovative projects in areas where a need for research to be prioritised has been identified,” he said.

“This funding also enables part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s commitment to fund early career researchers and part of the $47 million National Research Program which began in 2002.

“Nurturing ‘early career’ medical researchers is critical to discovering better and safer blood cancer treatments and keeping the most promising and exciting talent in Australia,” Mr Petch said.

“The Cancer Australia partnership also provides an opportunity for funds gifted to the Leukaemia Foundation for disease-specific research, to be directed towards high quality research, and for grants to be co-funded with Cancer Australia,” Mr Petch said.

The successful funding candidates are:

Kate Vandyke – South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Adelaide, South Australia

Disease: Multiple Myeloma
Project title: Increasing drug delivery and improving the quality of life for Multiple Myeloma patients.

Summary: Recent therapeutic advances have seen substantial improvements in the overall survival of patients with multiple myeloma (MM). However, these treatments are associated with significant side-effects, making treatment-related quality of life an increasingly important factor for patients.

Peripheral neuropathy, defined as damage and inflammation to nerves in the hands and feet, is a frequent complication in myeloma patients undergoing treatment with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib.

Peripheral neuropathy leads to debilitating pain that often necessitates dose reduction or treatment withdrawal, negatively impacting (cont) … treatment outcomes. Dr Vandyke has recently found that a novel N-cadherin inhibitor, LCRF-0006, can dramatically increase the antitumour efficacy of low-dose bortezomib treatment.

The proposed research will examine whether LCRF-0006 can be used to prime the tumour vasculature for the delivery of bortezomib and other myeloma therapies, thereby increasing their efficacy and potentially decreasing their systemic toxicity.

Laura Bray – Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation

Disease: Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
Project title: Development of a translational bioengineered microenvironment model to advance pre-clinical acute myeloid leukaemia research

Summary: Studies have shown that the standard culture of leukaemia cells on two dimensional surfaces, such as plastic, for research purposes, does not accurately mimic the natural environment of the bone marrow in the human body, hindering the translation of lab results to the clinic.

This study aims to develop new models for drug testing that give us information about the biology of acute myeloid leukaemia development and mechanisms of drug resistance.

Michelle Henderson – Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney, New South Wales

Disease: Leukaemia
Project title: Targeting the NAD pathway as a new therapeutic strategy for high-risk leukaemia in children

Summary: Rapidly dividing cancer cells can be dependent on a cellular biochemical called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as an energy source.

Preliminary work undertaken at the the Children’s Cancer Institute’s has led to the discovery of a new drug that blocks the production of NAD and has remarkably strong anti-leukaemia activity, even against the most aggressive subtypes of leukaemia.

This proposal aims to develop this drug as a novel therapeutic strategy for aggressive leukaemia in children, to ultimately improve their survival and minimise the side effects of treatment.

Jenny Wang – Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney, New South Wales

Disease: Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
Project title: Therapeutic targeting of a novel self-renewal signalling in leukaemia stem cells

Summary: Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a fatal form of blood cancer in children.

The survival of AML patients remains poor due to the return of disease after chemotherapy (relapse).

Leukaemia stem cells (LSCs) are the major cause of relapse and Dr Wang and the team at the Children’s Cancer Institute are studying how to eradicate them without harming healthy cells.

This project will develop a novel LSC-targeted therapy with minimal side effects and toxicity that will improve the dismal outcome of childhood AML.

Gabriela Brumatti – Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Victoria

Disease: Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
Project title: Targeting multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1) enhances the efficacy of Smac-mimetic-based therapy in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Summary: Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive blood cancer, and the second most common form of leukaemia in children.

Fewer than 30 per cent of AML patients can be cured with current therapies.

This project will test a novel combination therapy, the Smac-mimetic drug birinapant plus multidrug resistance inhibitors (MDR1i), for the treatment of AML.

This research will determine how this therapy can be effectively used to increase the chances of cure, with reduce side effects for the patient’s benefit.

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