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Research programs

Find out more about Cure Brain Cancer's programs of research and projects we fund. 

Cure Brain Cancer's research programs 

Clinical trials stimulus program

Cure Brain Cancer’s vision is that every person diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia can access new treatments through world-class clinical trials. To date, there have been few therapeutic trials available in Australia for brain cancer patients. The Clinical Trials Stimulus Program is designed to change this and make the most promising Australian-initiated trials - as well as international trials - available to Australian patients at the same time as they are available globally. 

Bringing clinical trials to Australia provides a multitude of benefits. All patients involved with clinical trials report better health outcomes, including those on the standard treatment arm of the study and even those screened for the trials that are ineligible. Bringing promising trials to Australian sites allows patients to stay closer to home and their support networks, and reduces the financial burden associated with travelling overseas for treatment.

“We scour the world for the best clinical trials and work with our international partners to bring them to Australia, so that novel treatments are available at the same time for Australian brain cancer patients as they are globally." 

- Michelle Stewart, Head of Research Strategy

Projects we fund in this program include:

GBM AGILE: Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment

Lead: Dr Anna Barker, Arizona State University, USA (2015)

GBM AGILE is a revolutionary new clinical trial which presents a brand new way of testing and developing brain cancer treatments; a world-first global adaptive clinical trial brought about by the biggest collaboration in the history of brain cancer research.

 

Zero Childhood Cancer: a personalised medicine program 

Lead: Prof Michelle Haber, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, NSW (2015)

Zero Childhood Cancer is a personalised medicine and clinical trial program for children, where researchers and clinicians will conduct detailed laboratory analysis of each child’s unique cancer cells, to help identify the drugs most likely to kill their cancer. 

 

A phase 2 clinical trial study of MEDI4736 in patients with glioblastoma 

Olivia Newton John

Lead: Dr Hui Gan, Cancer Research Institute/Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, VIC (2015)

Australian researchers are joining forces with global counterparts to evaluate the effectiveness of an immunotherapy called durvalumab (MEDI4736) in a clinical trial of patients with GBM.  

 

VERTU - Veliparib, radiotherapy and temozolomide clinical trial in newly diagnosed unmethylated MGMT glioblastoma 

Mustafa Khasraw

Lead: A/Pro Mustafa Khasraw, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, NSW (2014)

A clinical trial investigating whether adding a new drug Veliparib to radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with unmethylated MGMT glioblastoma makes the treatment more effective.

 

A phase 1 and biodistribution study of KB004 (an anti-EphA3 antibody) in patients with glioblastoma

Hui Gan

Dr Hui Gan, La Trobe University, VIC (2014)

A phase 1 clinical trial of a new antibody, KB004, that targets EphA3, which is a cancer protein that makes GBM aggressive and treatment resistant.

 

Discovery funds 

Discovery Funds supports basic research, which is the foundation of all medical research. The program enables communities to rally together to contribute funding for research that directly affects their lives. The program provides the opportunity for collaborative funding of research for specific brain tumour types such as AT/RT or ependymoma.

A minimum grant threshold of $200,000 must be met before a call for research applications will be made. Strategic priorities for the funds will be set by Cure Brain Cancer’s internationally renowned Scientific Advisory Committee. Each grant of $200,000 will provide funding for two years of basic or translational research to be conducted for the specific tumour type. 

“Basic research is the foundation on which therapeutic discovery can occur. It is vital to continue funding this scientific work, as this is where the more effective treatments of the future start from.”

- Michelle Stewart, Head of Research 

Projects we fund in this program include:

Targeting the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in High-Grade Glioma

Lead: Prof Terry Johns, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2014)

EGFR is a protein which is mutated in the majority of high-grade gliomas. The team are investigating resistance to EGFR-targetted therapeutics and ways to overcome this.

 

Understanding how epigentic abnormalities lead to brain cancer. 

Dr Lee Wong

Lead: Dr Lee Wong, Monash University, VIC (2014)

A project investigating how the epigenetic changes which result from ATRX/histone H3.3 mutations will aid the development of targeted therapies for brain tumours.

 

Biomarker discovery program 

The Cure Brain Cancer Biomarker Discovery Program brings together biomarker research that is being conducted across the country. Biomarkers are increasingly demonstrating value in cancer detection, diagnosis, prognosis, selection of therapy and prediction of treatment response, dosage, identification of disease relapse and recurrence, surrogate endpoints for clinical trials and the development of drug targets. The Biomarker Discovery Program covers the entire pipeline, from basic research to translational, and integration and use of biomarkers in clinical trials. 

Projects we fund in this area include:

Circulating MicroRNA as a biomarker in brain cancer 

Andrew Morokoff

Lead: Dr Andrew Morokoff, University of Melbourne, VIC (2014)

Developing microRNA detection in blood as a simple, rapid, cheap and accurate biomarker for brain cancer diagnosis and prediction.

 

Developing novel, EphA2 targeted PET molecular imaging tecnology for glioma 

Simon Puttick

Lead: Dr Simon Puttick, The University of Queensland, QLD (2014)

The team aims to deliver a novel diagnostic strategy for glioma that, in addition to providing a unique solution to treatment planning, will inform the rational design of targeted therapies. 

 

Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group 

A/Prof Kerrie McDonald and team

Lead: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald, University of New South Wales, NSW (2013)

The Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group is based at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW and focuses on precision medicine. It is also part of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.

 

Exceptional response to Avastin will lead to the identification of pre-selection biomarkers for use in patients with glioblastoma.

A/Prof Kerrie McDonald

Lead: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald, University of New South Wales, NSW (2014)

This project is part of the Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group and will study exceptional responders to Avastin to identify biomarkers to predict which patients will respond to the drug. 

 

Genomics research for medulloblastoma and glioblastoma 

Brandon Wainwright

Lead: Prof Brandon Wainwright, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, QLD (committed 2014)

Professor Brandon Wainwright's laboratory is currently pursuing studies of primary brain tumours in children and is embarking on the use of “genomic technology” to understand brain tumours that occur in adults such as glioblastoma. 

 

Understanding cellular pathways to identify and develop new strategies for treating HGG. 

Prof Terry Johns

Lead: Prof Terry Johns, Monash University, VIC (2013)

Understanding the various cellular pathways that allow tumours to survive and grow will allow us to develop effective strategies for treating patients with brain cancer. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.

 

Developing innovative molecular imaging technologies 

Stephen RoseLead: A/Prof Stephen Rose, The University of Queensland, QLD (2013)

Developing new quantitative biomarkers of early treatment response in HGG, based on an imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET) using the tracer FDOPA (3,4-dihydroxy-6-[18F]-fluoro-L-phenylalanine). We will use this technology to better understand and define tumour metabolism. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.

 

The process of cell invasion

Geraldine O Neill

Lead: A/Prof Geraldine O'Neill, Kids Research Institute at Westmead, NSW (2013)

Understanding invasion by glioblastoma, the most common malignant primary brain cancer in adults, is the first step towards new specific treatments with fewer side effects. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.

 

Immunotherapy in action

Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It is a growing field in cancer research and has shown some promising results, including in other cancers such a melanoma. Cure Brain Cancer’s Immunotherapy in Action program seeks to grow and support the immunotherapy field in brain cancer from basic research, translational research through to clinical trials.

Projects we fund in this program include:

Overcoming resistance to antibody-drug conjugates in glioblastoma patients 

Andrew Scott

Lead: Prof Andrew Scott, La Trobe University, VIC (2014)

Investigating the mechanisms of resistance to antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a group of drugs which have shown highly encouraging efficacy in GBM; this research is particularly important since the ADC ABT-414 is undergoing accelerated testing for GBM patients.

 

Immunotherapy centre of excellence NSW 

Helen Wheeler

Lead: Dr Helen Wheeler, Royal North Shore Hospital, University of Sydney (2015)

Based at the Kolling Institute at the Royal North Shore Hospital, this emerging brain cancer immunotherapy clinical trials expertise will give people living with brain cancer access to potential new treatments. Beginning with a 6 month pilot phase.

 

Kynurenine Pathway project

Dr Seray AdamsLead: Dr Seray Adams, Macquarie University, NSW (2014)

One metabolic pathway which impairs the immune system in brain cancer patients is the kynurenine pathway. The team are investigating novel therapeutics that target this pathway to restore normal immune system function.

 

Microglia targeting in GBM

Manuel GraeberLead: Prof Manuel Graeber, The University of Sydney, NSW (2014)

This project aims to develop and refine technology to send genetically enhanced microglia (the brain’s resident immune cells) into diseased brains to directly target glioblastoma multiforme cells. 

 

Paediatric research

Cure Brain Cancer’s Paediatric Research Program covers all stages of research from basic to translational research and clinical trials in all areas of research, including precision medicine. Paediatric research includes work on paediatric-specific tumour types and research that is applicable to paediatric forms of brain cancer more broadly. 

Projects we fund in this program include:

Novel targeted chemotherapeutic agents against diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)

David Ziegler and Maria TsoliLead: Dr Maria Tsoli & Dr David Ziegler, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, NSW (2014)

This research team have used a robotic technology to screen over 3,500 biologically active, clinically approved, pharmaceutical compounds to test their ability to inhibit DIPG cell growth.

 

Paediatric research from bench to bed 

Dr Nick GottardoLead: Dr Nick Gottardo, Telethon Kids Research Institute, WA (2013)

Dr Nick Gottardo's team is identifying new therapies to be tested in clinical trials by using high-throughput robotics to screen thousands of drugs. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative. Read more about paediatric research within the BCDC here 

 

Pharmacological inhibition of MCL-1 and BCL-xL to treat human medulloblastoma 

Andreas StrasserLead: Prof Andreas Strasser, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2014)

The team aim to develop novel strategies to efficiently kill medulloblastoma cells without causing intolerable damage to healthy tissues, by utilising recently developed BH3-mimetic drugs that directly activate the cell death pathway.  

 

Brilliant Minds

Brilliant Minds is Cure Brain Cancer’s young researcher support and communications program. It is designed to encourage cross-disciplinary movement into brain cancer research and grow and support brilliant minds early in their careers.

Brilliant Minds communications program 

Brilliant Minds

Brilliant Minds delivers the latest mind blowing advances in medical science and technology via our monthly newsletter and social media channels. 

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Brilliant Minds Career Fellowships 

Brilliant Minds

 We are committed to encouraging Brilliant Minds into brain cancer research and want to attract the best and brightest to work in one of the most challenging areas of research. Australia has a truly collaborative network of brain cancer laboratories and is poised to create significant impact in the area. We will support excellent talent to be a part of this movement.