WITH 22 LABORATORIES DEDICATED TO CANCER RESEARCH, QIMR IS WORKING HARD TO UNDERSTAND HOW AND WHY CANCERS DEVELOP.
Your participation in The Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer® will support groundbreaking, critical cancer research being undertaken at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research [QIMR].
Currently QIMR researchers are investigating the causes of more than 13 cancers including skin, brain, colorectal, breast, ovarian, lung and lymphoma. They are working to develop the most accurate diagnostics as well as new, targeted drugs, vaccines, and immunotherapies. These treatments have the potential to allow for earlier detection, increase survival rates as well as reduce the side effects of anti-cancer therapies.
In 2001, QIMR opened the Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre, a comprehensive cancer research centre unparalleled in Australian history. The Berghofer Centre helped accelerate QIMR’s efforts to transform breakthrough cancer research into life-saving, real world applications. Upon completion in 2012, a brand new 15-floor research facility will further increase the Institute’s research capacity and unify the QIMR campus. The facility will accommodate 20 new research laboratories and attract an additional 400 scientists and students, increasing QIMR’s staff capacity by more than 50 percent.
You can play a key role in the journey of medical discovery! Your support of The Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer will help QIMR continue its aggressive pace in transforming the research initiatives of today into the breakthrough cancer care of tomorrow. Your efforts will bring hope and help to thousands in need across Australia, and around the world.
Professor David Whiteman: The QSKIN Study: Baseline data linkage to health registers
Queensland may be the home of gorgeous beaches, picturesque rainforests and a great outdoor lifestyle, but it is also the skin cancer capital of the world.
Each year, more than 2600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma, and more than 250 people each year die from melanoma. The numbers afflicted by non-melanoma skin cancer are so large as to be deemed 'unable to be counted'. The costs of diagnosing and treating skin cancers dwarf those of all other cancers.
Professor David Whiteman from QIMR’s Cancer Control Laboratory is currently carrying out the Q-Skin study which is the largest skin cancer research study ever conducted in Australia.
The study aims to document the skin cancer experience over a 10 year period of 43,000 Queensland participants. Each participant has answered a questionnaire about previous sun exposure, number of freckles and moles, skin type, family history of cancer, and many other factors.
By linking this information with Medicare records, QSkin will provide comprehensive information about people’s skin cancer risk, explore the causal pathways to melanoma, develop risk prediction tools for clinicians, and quantify the burden of skin cancer on the Queensland community.
The study will examine long-term information about a range of factors that may prove to influence skin cancer risk. Through this knowledge, we hope to gain a better understanding of how skin cancers develop and who is at greatest risk.
With the information gathered from QSkin, researchers will also develop a tool that doctors and patients can use to predict a person’s future risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.
This tool will have important implications for the prevention of these cancers. For example, doctors may be able to identify people at high risk of developing skin cancer, who can be offered regular skin checks.
Funds raised by the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer will allow Professor Whiteman and the Q-Skin study to employ a parttime analyst to prepare the massive data files for linkages to health registers. This is an essential part of the Q-Skin study as it allows the team to capture accurate, objective and detailed health information about study participants.
Q-Skin’s data-analyst will allows us to link participant records to Medicare, which will capture information on history of skin excisions and medication use. The data-analyst will also link participant information to the cancer registry which will provide information about previous melanomas. This baseline health information is essential for all future analyses, so participants can be grouped according to their validated medical history.
Dr Stuart MacGregor: A genome-wide association study on response to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer
Ovarian Cancer is often described as the silent or whispering killer as it can be difficult to diagnose as there is no screening test and the symptoms, such as bloating or abdominal pain are very common and can be attributed to many other factors, so they often do not spark any concern.
Ovarian cancer affects more than 1,200 Australian women each year and only 40% of women diagnosed survive more than five years.
Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer typically undergo surgery, followed by chemotherapy. However, the efficacy of chemotherapy varies widely, with some women responding well, whilst others are exposed to the toxic effects of a treatment that does them little good.
In a range of other diseases, genetic effects have been uncovered which are now important for determining optimal drug dose.
Funds raised by the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer will allow Dr MacGregor to identify the genes which explain why there are differences in response to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer.
The project will examine 300,000 DNA markers in more than 200 women who respond well to chemotherapy and contrast those with a set of more than 200 women who respond poorly to the treatment.
In this project we will attempt to identify genetic markers of drug response. The ability to predict drug response could:
a) Identify patients who are now exposed to the toxic effects of chemotherapy without significant benefit;
b) Influence optimal dosing; and
c) Allow selection of a potentially more effective chemotherapy regime.
If successful, this will yield a set of DNA markers which can be routinely tested, leading to more individualised chemotherapy and improved outcomes in women with ovarian cancer.
STEVE LANE - LEUKAEMIA
Steven Lane is developing a model to test new therapies for leukaemia, by targeting stem cells
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive type of leukaemia, most common in people over 60. Although it can be initially treated with chemotherapy, if the patient relapses, the treatment becomes much less effective. The relapse is thought to be due to just a few leukaemia stem cells (LSC) which are resistant to chemotherapy. If leukaemia is to be cured, these cells have to be completely eradicated.
Steven Lane will use his Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer funding to isolate and maintain leukaemia stem calls in the laboratory. His team will study the LSC, test new drugs on them, and determine how they respond to genetic changes. In the long-term, the process could lead to new therapies for leukaemia.
RACHEL NEALE - PANCREATIC CANCER
Pancreatic cancer is responsible for almost 6 % of all cancer deaths in Australia, with more than 2500 cases every year. By the times pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it has usually spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes. About half of all pancreatic cancer patients die within six months.
Dr Rachel Neale is comparing the blood of people with pancreatic cancer, with those who are cancer-free. Her Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer funding will determine whether there’s a link between pancreatic cancer, and a marker on DNA, which modifies the way genes work.
This could provide a way to screen people in high-risk groups, to help doctors make an earlier diagnosis, or more accurate prognosis, and to improve survival rates and reduce unnecessary surgery.
Rachel Neale took part in the 2011 Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer.
Dr Lane will also be taking part in the 2012 Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer.