CCWA Honours Scholarships 

Full list of grants and recipients 2018

Project Analysis of imaging flow cytometry for diagnosis and monitoring of paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Recipient  Mr Venkat Doddi
Institution The University of Western Austral
Research description  

Paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer.  It may be characterised by several known genetic variations that can determine an affected individual’s outcome and treatment.  Traditional methods used to determine the person with cancer’s response to treatment are not specific enough, time-consuming and expensive. 

Dr Erber and Dr Fuller have developed the ‘immuno-flowFISH’ blood screening method using the imaging flow cytometer to identify the leukaemia cells in children with ALL.  We predict that the immuno-flowFISH method increases the likelihood of detecting chromosomal abnormalities in paediatric ALL as compared to traditional methods.  The success of this project will allow a rapid and accurate tool for the detection of remaining cancer cells during the treatment phase of an affected individual.

Funding from CCWA $7,500
Fully supported In the name of the Estate of Delys Nash

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Project Cracking the (immune) code to successful cancer immunotherapy
Recipient  Ms Nicola Principe
Institution The University of Western Australia
Research description  

Australia has one of the highest incidences of mesothelioma in the work, a cancer caused by asbestos.  There is no cure for this cancer, and chemotherapy is used to manage the disease.  Immunotherapy is an exciting treatment for mesothelioma, working to boost a patient’s immune cells (in particular T cells) to clear tumours.  It is a breakthrough treatment that leads to cures in some cancer patients, but is ineffective in others, producing severe side effects.  This may be due to each patient having a different combination of T cell receptors (TCRs), which dictates what the immune system can respond to. 

With the current technology to study millions of TCRs at the same time, this project will investigate if distinct combination of TCRs will affect outcomes to immunotherapy in a model of mesothelioma.  In doing so we will use TCR diversity as a tool to accurately predict responses to immunotherapy and thereby inform therapy decisions.

Funding from CCWA $7,500
Supported

In the names of the Ee family, Estate of Nancy Goodwin & The Sparkly Umbrella

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Project Analysis of a new ultra-sensitive world-first blood test developed in WA to assist treatment decisions in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Recipient  Mr Jason Stanley
Institution The University of Western Australia
Research description  

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) is the most common blood cancer in the western world. A type of CLL characterised by a deletion in part of chromosome 17 (del(17p)) is associated with early death in people with CLL and a specific treatment is required to treat this variant of the disease.l-a Current testing of CLL using a method called interphase fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) is a timeconsuming and relatively insensitive screening method. To improve screening of CLL, Prof Erber and Dr Fuller have developed a world-first automated FISH method called ""immuno-flowFl SH"". 

This study aims to test the effectiveness of immuno-flowFlSH to current screening method in detection of CLL with del(17p). This will be done by screening of del(17p) in Leukaemia cells from people with CLL using immuno-flowFlSH and comparing it to interphase FISH.  

lf successful, this project will provide essential data for the diagnostic application of immuno-flowFlSH to diagnose CLL del17p.

Funding from CCWA $7,500
Fully supported In the name of the Estate of Delys Nash


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Project What events in cancers can we use to improve the response rate when treating with immunotherapy?
Recipient  Mr Andre Wang
Institution The University of Western Australia
Research description  

The immune system usually recognises and defends us against diseases. Unfortunately, it sometimes fails to recognise cancer as a threat. More recently, cancer treatment with immunotherapy has been developed. This involves the use of antibodies that take away ‘brakes’ on immune cells, allowing them to target cancer cells. While this may allow for tremendous results, most notably in melanoma, a majority of patients do not respond, with some cancers such as mesothelioma being less sensitive to this therapy. 

Currently, it is not known why this is the case and there aren't reliable ‘biomarkers’ that would tell us whether a patient would respond or not.  To address this problem, the team will compare all the genes in responsive and nonresponsive tumour samples from animal models and patients treated with immunotherapy. They can then use ‘big data’ approaches to identify key genes involved in the response and try to improve recovery rates by targeting these genes with new drug combinations.

Funding from CCWA $7,500
Supported

In the names of Leah Jane Cohen & the Edward and Patricia Usher Cancer Research Assistance Fund


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