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Research programs

Our research strategy is designed to get new treatments to patients faster by funding across the entire research pathway and ensuring every person diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia has access to a quality clinical trial. 

Over the last five years, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has invested more than $13 million in research. More than 90 per cent was invested in Australia. The other 10 per cent is helping to ensure that Australians have early access to world-class treatments as soon as they are available anywhere in the world.

All research projects are reviewed by our internationally renowned Scientific Advisory Committee.

Click on the below links to learn more about each program. 

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, Chief Executive Officer

Projects we fund and amount invested in this program include:

BIOMEDE - Australian participation in the international BIOMEDE (Biological Medicine for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma Eradication) - $188,750

Lead: A/Prof Geoffrey McCowage, Australian and New Zealand Children's Haematology Oncology Group/Monash University, VIC (2018 - Present)

BIOMEDE is the first adaptive clinical trial in Australia for DIPG that will analyse a child's brain tumour and identify which of the three drugs approved for the trial is most likely to be effective. 

 

Zero Childhood Cancer: a personalised medicine program - $1,315,000
Lead: Prof Michelle Haber, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, NSW (2015 - Present)

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.

 


Mustafa KhasrawVERTU - A phase 2 clinical trial for people with newly diagnosed, unmethylated MGMT glioblastoma - $498,775

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

A phase 2 clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of adding a new drug to radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed, unmethylated MGMT glioblastoma.

 

 

Hui GanA phase 1 and biodistribution study of an anti-EphA3 antibody in patients with glioblastoma - $500,000

Lead: Dr Hui Gan, La Trobe University, VIC (2014 - Present)

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


 

GBM AGILE: Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment - $1,176,182

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.

 

Discovery funds 

Discovery Funds supports basic research, which is the foundation of all medical research.

“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, Chief Executive Officer 

Projects we fund in this program include:

 

A pilot study of nivolumab in paediactic patients with hypermutant cancers - $86,796

Lead: A/Prof David Ziegler, Australia and New Zealand Children's Haematology Oncology Group, NSW (2019 - 2021)

 A pilot clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of immunotherapy drug nivolumab, in children with hypermutant tumours, which are tumours with an extremely high number of mutations.


 

Investigation into epigenetics and new therapeutic strategy in ATRX mutated gliomas - $200,000 

Lead: A/Prof Lee Wong, Monash University, VIC (2018 - Present)

 A/Prof Wong's team will study changes in gene expression (epigenetics) that can lead to gliomas - the most common form of brain cancer.


 

 

Targeting the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in High-Grade Glioma - $200,000

Lead: Prof Terry Johns, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2014 - 2016)

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 - $200,000

Lead: Dr Lee Wong, Monash University, VIC (2014 - 2016)

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:

Imaging and molecular determinants of response to chemoradiation in glioblastoma - $200,000

Lead: Prof Andrew Scott, La Trobe University, VIC (2018 - Present)

Professor Scott's team will investigate the use of imaging signatures to predict the prognosis of patients with glioblastoma. The team will also determine if these imaging signatures can predict the likelihood of a paitent responding to therapy, or, if they are experiencing any resistance to therapy.

 

 

Leonie QuinnUncovering novel drug targets to treat primary brain cancer - $200,000

Lead: Dr Leonie Quinn, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, ACT - $200,000 (2017 - Present)

This project aims to identify new prognostic markers and investigate drug therapies for specific Oligodendroglioma tumour types based on their molecular signature.

 

 

Brandon WainwrightGenomics research for medulloblastoma and glioblastoma -$150,000

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

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.

  

 

A/Prof Kerrie McDonald and teamCure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology Group: Head of Biomarker and Translational Research - $4,053,712

Lead: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald, University of New South Wales, NSW (2009 - Present)

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. 

 

 

Andrew MorokoffCirculating MicroRNA as a biomarker in brain cancer - $199,724

Lead: Dr Andrew Morokoff, University of Melbourne, VIC (2014 - 2016)

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


 

Simon PuttickDeveloping novel, EphA2 targeted PET molecular imaging technology for glioma - $199,738

Lead: Dr Simon Puttick, The University of Queensland, QLD (2014 - 2016)

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.




A/Prof Kerrie McDonaldExceptional response to a targeted antibody drug will lead to the identification of pre-selection  biomarkers for use in patients with glioblastoma - $126,500

Lead: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald, University of New South Wales, NSW (2014 - 2016)

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

 

 

Prof Terry JohnsUnderstanding cellular pathways to identify and develop new strategies for treating High Grade Glioma - $1,588,333

Lead: Prof Terry Johns, Monash University, VIC (2013 - 2016)

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.

 

 

Stephen RoseDeveloping innovative molecular imaging technologies - $425,000

Lead: A/Prof Stephen Rose, The University of Queensland, QLD (2013 - 2016)

Developing new quantitative biomarkers of early treatment response in high grade glioma, based on an imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET) using the tracer FDOPA. We will use this technology to better understand and define tumour metabolism. This is part of the work of the Brain Cancer Discovery Collaborative.

 

 

Geraldine O NeillThe process of cell invasion - $350,000

Lead: A/Prof Geraldine O'Neill, Kids Research Institute at Westmead, NSW (2013 - 2016)

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:

Roberta MazzieriPowering and arming the immune system to combat Glioblastoma - $200,000

Lead: Dr Roberta Mazzieri University of Queensland, QLD (2017 - Present)

Dr Mazzieri's proposed research investigates strategies to harness the power of immunotherapy to improve glioblastoma treatment.

 

Andrew ScottOvercoming resistance to antibody-drug conjugates in glioblastoma patients - $199,233

Lead: Prof Andrew Scott, La Trobe University, VIC (2014 - 2016)

Investigating the mechanisms of resistance to antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a group of drugs which have shown highly encouraging efficacy in glioblastoma (GBM). This research is particularly important since it focuses on an ADC that is undergoing accelerated testing for GBM patients.

 

 

Dr Seray AdamsKynurenine Pathway project - $125,000

Lead: Dr Seray Adams, Macquarie University, NSW (2014 - 2015)

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.

 

 

Immunotherapy centre of excellence NSW - $250,000

Lead: Dr Viive Howell, 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. 

  

 

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:

A pilot study of nivolumab in paediatric patients with hypermutant cancers - $86,796

Lead: A/Prof David Ziegler, Australia and New Zealand Children's Haematology Oncology Group, NSW (2019 - 2021)

 A pilot clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of immunotherapy drug nivolumab, in children with hypermutant tumours, which are tumours with an extremely high number of tumour mutations.

   

BIOMEDE - Australian participation in the international BIOMEDE (Biological Medicine for Diffuse Instrinsic Pontine Glioma Eradication) - $188,750

Lead: A/Prof Geoffrey McCowage, Monash University, VIC (2018 - Present)

 BIOMEDE is the first adaptive clinical trial in Australia for DOPG that will analyse a child's tumour and identify which of the three drugs approved for the trial is most likely to be effective.

 

 

Nick GottardoMixing old treatments with new drugs to cure brain cancer - $200,000

Lead: A/Prof Nick Gottardo, Telethon Kids Research Institute, WA (2017 - Present)

Nick Gottardo's research aims to find approaches that enhance existing treatments, prove the new methods work using laboratory techniques, then translate them into clinical trials.


 

 

David Ziegler and Maria TsoliNovel targeted chemotherapeutic agents against diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) - $160,000

Lead: Dr Maria Tsoli & Dr David Ziegler, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, NSW (2014 - 2017)

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 grow


 

 

Dr Nick GottardoPaediatric research from bench to bed - $483,333

Lead: Dr Nick Gottardo, Telethon Kids Research Institute, WA (2013 - 2016)

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.

 

 

Andreas StrasserPharmacological inhibition of MCL-1 and BCL-xL to treat human medulloblastoma - $200,000

Lead: 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 Foundation’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 MindsBrilliant Minds Career Fellowships

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.

 

Projects we fund in this program include:

Laura GenovesiThe therapeutic targeting of cell cycle regulators and mechanisms of resistance to cell cycle therapy in Medulloblastoma - $345,000

Lead: Dr Laura Genovesi, University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, QLD (2017 - Present)

Medulloblastoma is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality and morbidity in children. Few effective therapies are available for patients with high-risk disease or tumours that recur following standard-of-care therapy and thus, these patients have a poor prognosis. Based on this, Dr Genovesi has focused on identifying novel Medulloblastoma targeted therapies for Medulloblastoma.

 

 

Ryan CrossDesigning immune killer cells for adults and children with brain cancer  - $345,000

Lead: Dr Ryan Cross, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, VIC (2017 - Present)

T cells are white blood cells which can recognise and kill tumour target cells. However, tumours often outsmart the T cells so they can't kill them anymore. Dr Cross aims to re-arm these T cells with new genetically engineered weapons to kill highly fatal brain cancers in both children and adults. 

 

 

Brilliant MindsBrilliant Minds communications program

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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Capacity Building Program

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation's Capacity Building Program aims to increase the capacity, validity, and effectiveness of brain cancer research models systems in Australia. These projects will provide support to key research groups that currently develop primary brain cancer model systems and provide these as a resource to other research groups. Model systems are a valuable resource to quality medical research and it is vital that Australian researchers have access to this critical technology to accelerate the number and quality of potential brain cancer agents to clinical trials.  

Programs we fund in this program include:

Evaluation of novel therapies for brain cancer and generation and characterisation of recurrent brain cancer models - $400,000

Lead: Dr Bryan Day, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, QLD (2018 - Present)

This project will aim to identify new drugs to combat glioblastoma, through the development of a unique library of paired primary and recurrent glioblastoma models.


 

 

A national brain-organoid based high-throughput platform for personalised drug and genetic screening in glioblastoma - $400,000

Lead: Dr Guillermo Gomez, University of South Australia, SA (2018 - Present)

 Dr Gomez will lead a project that aims to use brain organoids to understand the process of cancer cell invasion and the potential drugs that can stop it.