CCWA Suzanne Cavanagh Early Career Investigator Grants

Full list of grants and recipients 2018

Project Catching immune cells in the act of fighting bowel cancer
Recipient  Dr Chidozie Anyaegbu
Institution The University of Western Australia
Research description  

Every year in Australia, more than 4,000 people die from bowel cancer. To reduce the number of people dying from this disease, better ways are needed to identify patients at high risk of their cancer returning after surgery and chemotherapy, and better ways are required to treat them. White blood cells (immune cells) are important for controlling cancer growth. Dendritic cells (DCs) are a special group of immune cells that coordinate the body’s immune responses, instructing other immune cells on when to attack and when not to.

This study will look at whether the type of DCs in bowel cancer samples helps to identify these ‘high-risk’ patients who may not respond well to chemotherapy. Cancers removed from 215 patients will be examined for different types of DCs interacting with cancer-killing cells called CD8+ T cells, and study any associations with treatment response. Data from this study will also help to identify patients who may benefit from drugs that boost the performance of DCs or CD8+ T cells.

Funding from CCWA $34,688
Fully supported In the name of the Estate of Margaret Shoesmith

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Project Ultra-sensitive monitoring of acute myeloid leukaemia using blood and urine
Recipient  Dr Hun Chuah
Institution The University of Western Australia
Research description  

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive form of blood cancer. Every year, 1000 Australians are diagnosed with AML. Despite treatment, only 25% of these patients survive more that 5 years after diagnosis. The major cause of death is relapsed disease. The aim of this project is to improve this poor outcome by developing sensitive disease monitoring tests so that relapse can be detected much earlier and treatment can be intiated in a more timely manner.

Current blood tests available are too insensitive and bone marrow biopsy, currently the best method, is too invasive to be performed regularly to mointor AML. Ninety six percent of patients with AML have one or more changes in their genes (mutations) relevant for AML. This study will make use of this fact and use genetic analysis of blood and urine samples to monitor these mutations specific to each patient. The results will be compared with patient outcomes to see if they can predict relapse earlier. Doing so would improve outcome by earlier initiation of treatment.

Funding from CCWA $35,000
Fully supported In the name of the Estate of Delys Nash

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Project Supervised exercise program versus a home exercise program for cancer patients, prior to undergoing prostate surgery
Recipient  Dr Favil Singh
Institution Edith Cowan University
Research description  

Prostatectomy is associated with adverse effects including incontinence and reduced functional capacity. This impact is damaging given the potentially low physical reserve capacity of patients. Exercise has shown to have a positive outcome in attenuating cancer treatment-related adverse effects. Traditionally, exercise interventions have focused on post-surgical recovery. However, an opportune time for exercise is pre-surgery to negate treatment-related adverse effects thereby aiding recovery, and enhancing patient outcomes.

The study will evaluate two different exercise interventions (gym-based and home-based exercise) done prior to surgery aimed at enhancing pre-surgical physical function and improving post-surgical recovery. Outcomes will provide supportive evidence for the role of pre-surgical exercise in the management of prostate cancer. Patients can then consider this relatively simple and cost-effective intervention in order to accelerate a return to normal daily activities.

Funding from CCWA $34,958

In the name of the Estate of Harold Marley & West Coast Eagles Football Club


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