(stipend only - co-funded with Victoria University)
Modification of Glycolipids to Provide Anti-Tumour Immunity
There is now considerable evidence that tumour growth can be controlled by the immune system. There are two immune responses, Th1 and Th2. The Th1 response leads to tumour destruction, whereas the Th2 response suppresses this anti-tumour immunity. We have identified a unique set of glycolipid structures that we believe will skew the immune system towards Th1 tumour destruction and ultimately lead to the obliteration of cancerous cells.
In silico analysis of additional partner chromosome-BCR junctions in complex BCR-ABL1 rearrangements of chronic myeloid leukaemia
There are many different types of leukaemia and each type arises out of specific genetic changes that occur within a particular type of blood cell. Despite the apparently precise nature of the genetic change, patients with the same type of leukaemia experience variability in prognosis and survival. The biological basis underlying this variability is largely unknown. This research project seeks to better understand the genetic features that may underlie heterogeneity of one type of leukaemia called chronic myeloid leukaemia, and should contribute to improved future outcomes for the group of patients with this disease who currently have a poorer prognosis and survival.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Vulva - A study of clinical and histological features
The risk factors for the development of vulval squamous cell carcinoma are not well understood. It is estimated that Lichen Sclerosus, an inflammatory skin condition, carries a 5% risk of malignancy. The role of other inflammatory skin conditions has not been well studied.
We aim to review the clinical and histopathological features of all cases of vulval squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed in the Auckland district since 1990 in accordance with the most recent classification system. The purpose of our study is to better identify those women who are at risk of developing malignancy.
A Study of EGFR and C-MYC Gene Amplification, by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridisation, in Triple Negative Breast Carcinomas
Breast cancer is a common disease which affects around 1 in 12 women in New Zealand. While there have been significant advances in our understanding of the biology and treatment of this important disease, there remains a group of breast cancer patients who have particularly aggressive disease. Some of these aggressive cancers do not express hormonal or HER2 receptors, and are not susceptible to specific therapy such as Tamoxifen, Herceptin© or Lapatanib©. In our study, we will investigate the role of the EGFR and C-MYC genes in order to improve our understanding and treatment in this sub-group of breast cancer.
Breast cancer stem cells: hypoxia and angiogenesis
Cancer stem cells divide and perpetuate tumours, making them a key therapeutic target. Breast cancer stem cells are distinguished by staining with CD44 and CD24 antibodies. Low tumour oxygen levels due to poor blood supply increase cellular hypoxia inhibitory factor-1? (HIF1?) which regulates growth, spread and angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels). We will identify cancer stem cells and study hypoxia and angiogenic factors in 300 human breast tumours collected by the Cancer Society Tissue Bank. Correlation with pathology and follow-up for each patient will show which factors predict cancer behaviour, and may lead to new stem cell targeted therapy.
Down-regulation of expression of MGMT in melanoma and sensitivity to temolozomide
Melanoma and glioma are cancers that are notoriously difficult to treat. Limited (~25%) success has been achieved with drugs that modify DNA, suggesting cancers that respond do not express the gene for a key DNA repair enzyme. We have analysed expression of this gene in melanoma cells and have found an almost complete correlation between response to a DNA-modifying drug and loss of gene expression. We will extend this work to glioma and study chromatin modifications at this gene to understand the molecular basis for loss of expression. This will enable more effective individualised treatment for glioma and metastatic melanoma.
Phenotype and function of invariant natural killer T cells in chronic lymphocytic Leukaemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common blood cancer in New Zealand Treatments are available, but presently CLL cannot be cured without bone marrow transplantation. The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research wants to harness patients' own immune systems in the fight against cancer. Working with Wellington Cancer Centre, the researchers will study the immune system of patients with CLL. They will analyse a rare blood cell called the invariant natural killer T cell and explore ways of stimulating patients' immune systems against their own leukaemia. This research will help the development of future cancer vaccination trials in New Zealand.
Clinical Audit Support for Medical Oncology Service
The Regional Cancer Treatment Service serves a population of 565,000. Medical Oncology relates to chemotherapy treatment. Quality assurance activity such as clinical audit tracks important treatment outcomes such as rates of cure, remission periods, and rates of response to specific chemotherapies. This information allows medical staff to make treatment decisions which ensure people receive chemotherapy consistent with national and international standards. The increasing technological complexity of the data management and analysis needed to support clinical decision making now requires specialist knowledge and skills. RCTS Medical Oncology service is requesting funding from Genesis Oncology Trust to undertake the initial re-establishment and development of audit capacity within the service.
Sensitivity of ALL leukemic blasts to the isoflavene anticancer drug, phenoxodiol
Phenoxodiol, currently in Stage III clinical trials for the treatment of late stage drug-resistant ovarian cancer and early stage prostate cancer, is generally well tolerated by patients. We have shown that phenoxodiol also kills lymphoid cancer cells. This project will test the effect of phenoxodiol alone and in combination with drugs currently used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on the survival of lymphoid blasts from bone marrows of patients with ALL. The results of this pilot study may contribute to the development of clinical trials involving phenoxodiol, and to improved treatment of childhood and adult ALL.
The Early Detection of Prostate Cancer in General Practice : Supporting Patient Choice
The Central Cancer Network (CCN) in collaboration with clinical staff at MidCentral Health are proposing piloting a resource tool for General Practitioners to use when discussing with a patient their choices about testing for prostate cancer. The tool has been developed in Australia and contains up to date information and facilitates decision making that is both informed and consistent with the patient's personal preference. The project includes delivering training to a few GP groups on how to use the tool effectively with their patients and undertaking an evaluation on the training and tool prior to expanding the project across the region.
Genesis Oncology Trust Breakfast Lecture Series.
This is the fifth year Hospice New Zealand and the Genesis Oncology Trust will work together to provide the popular breakfast lecture series.
The series is delivered via teleconference so is easily accessible for all hospices, DHB sites and individual members of Hospice New Zealand throughout the country. Lectures run for one hour on the first Thursday of the month from March - December.
On average 270 health care professionals from the deep south to the far north listen to the various palliative care related topics each month. Thanks to the continued support of the Genesis Oncology Trust participation for registered sites is at no charge.
An observational study investigating the objective and subjective impact of a structured gynaecology service for women who have undergone allogeneic haematopoeitic stem cell transplant.
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) offers the chance of cure for many patients with blood cancers. The high doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy used in this treatment may cause infertility and sexuality problems. Surviving a BMT is more likely today due to better supportive care so issues around sexuality and fertility have become increasingly important in the lives of survivors.
Gynaecology input is an essential part of a woman's care post transplant. This research will assess the information available to women pre and post transplant about theses issues and will look at the impact of a dedicated Gynaecology service. It will also look at the resources currently in use and whether these need to be developed further.
Gynaecological Cancer Research. Two years partial funding (0.2FTE) of a Gynaecology Cancer Research Nurse
The gynaecological cancer unit at Christchurch Women's Hospital provides services for women throughout the South Island of New Zealand. Participating in international clinical research enables us to maintain treatments at the best international standards. Our research also answers questions relevant to New Zealand women. We also support collaborating researchers who are assessing new tests used in screening and prevention of cervical cancer, understanding cancer growth and developing a new test for uterine cancer. Clinical research can only be performed in the presence of a suitable infrastructure. A research nurse fills an essential role, coordinating research activities and patient consent.
To attend a short course on ‘Relative Survival: Approaches to Advanced Modelling' being held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in April 2008.
To undertake Module 4 of the Post Graduate Certificate in Hospice Palliative Care offered via Whitireia Polytechnic
To attend the the 17th International Congress on the Care of the Terminally Ill in Montreal. And visit palliative care centres in Australia and the UK
Analysis of CD83 and CD40 in breast and bowel cancer
Breast and Bowel cancer are two of the most common cancers in New Zealand. It is known that cancers can evade the body's immune defence system in order to grow and spread. The cancer cells can do this by expressing certain molecules and proteins. Some of the proteins relate directly to the immune system, such as CD83 and CD40. By analysing real human and test tube cancer cells for the proteins CD83 and CD40 and working out how they function we hope to increase our understanding of cancer and move towards better treatments or cures.