Research Centre

Funded Research

Since its formation in May 2014 the Mark Hughes Foundation has funded the following initiatives:

Mark Hughes Foundation Brain Cancer Biobank

“The Virtuous Circle: A Living Brain Cancer Biobank”

Researchers: Professor Rodney Scott, Dr Craig Gedye, Dr Marjorie Walker

The Hunter Cancer Biobank (HCB), located at HMRI, was established in 2012 to meet the growing needs of local cancer research, and provides our local highly respected researchers with high quality tissues, free of charge, allowing them to conduct state of the art research into all types of cancer. The HCB collects a range of tumours from adult patients having cancer-related surgery in the Hunter New England region. Only excess tissue (that is not required for a patient’s diagnosis and treatment) is stored in the HCB; this tissue would otherwise be discarded. The HCB currently has over 3300 tumour samples.

Thanks to the establishment of the Mark Hughes Foundation now banks cancer and blood samples from every consenting patient and has built a comprehensive brain cancer Biobank.

Travel Grant Program

MHF funded travel grant program to connect brain cancer researchers across the globe.

Pia Laegdsgaard – 8th COGNO Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane 22-24 October 2015
Dr. Adrian Lee (SNOG) – 8th COGNO Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane 22-24 October 2015
Dr. Viive Howell - Inaugural International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference, New York, 16-19 September 2015
DR. Mike Fay - American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, 18-21 October 2015
Dr. Craig Gedye - 8th COGNO Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, 22-24 October 2015
Marina Kastelan- 20th Annual Society for Neuro-Oncology Annual Scientific Meeting and Education Day, San Antonio, Texas, 19-22 November 2015

PHD Project under the supervision of Dr. Helen Wheeler (SNOG)

Laying the Foundations for Improved Treatments for IDH-Mutated Glioma

The aim of this project is that pathways enriched with genetic and genomic alterations will provide information on the differences between primary and recurrent IDH mutated Gliomas and uncover potential new therapeutic targets or strategies for better management strategies for recurrent tumours which are relatively refractory to current treatments.

Update:
Findings so far will form the foundations for the development of new tests to monitor patients and new therapies for the treatment of this cancer. Some of the genes / proteins identified may be developed into robust blood tests that can then be trialled prospectively to determine their ability to accurately monitor tumour burden or recurrence. Other genes / proteins will be investigated by functional studies to assess the impact of changing the levels of these specific factors. This will determine whether tumour behaviour / growth can be altered by normalising these factors such providing a rational basis for further work to develop new therapies in matched IDH-Wild type. This project is ongoing.

Bringing CLARITY to brain cancer

Researchers: Jamie Flynn

This project is a sub-component of "Understanding Complexity and Heterogeneity in Cancer Biology and Treatment" study. The aim of this particular study is to ‘clear’ and image brain tumour samples from the Hunter Cancer Biobank (HCB) in 3D microscopic resolution for the first time using the CLARITY procedure and lightsheet microscopy.

By examining the structural and molecular signatures of tumours in 3D, we can open brand new avenues in cancer research by enabling a better understanding of unappreciated intercellular relationships in the tumour microenvironment not currently understood from traditional, thin ‘2D’ sections.

Update:
The Virtual Biobank has now been released. The hope is to add brain cancer samples to this growing catalogue as soon as they become available.

Defining and predicting clinical toxicity in GBM patients undergoing temozolomide-radiation treatment: A multivariate study.

Researchers: Dr. James Lynam

The aim of this project is to use a combination of existing and novel clinical blood tests to predict which patients with GBM will suffer severe toxic side-effects when treated with the Stupp protocol. All of the tests we propose have been used for predicting patient outcomes in other treatments and other diseases, but this is the first time they will be combined and applied to treatment for GBM.

Update:
Patient recruitment continues for this project. The current project will provide a biomarker discovery clinical data set.

BAALC - a novel target for the development of new treatments for brain cancer.

Researchers: Dr. Kathryn Skelding

The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a new treatment for glioblastoma multiforme that improves patient survival, without increasing side effects and toxicities associated with treatment.

Update:
The next steps for this work are to further examine the new BAALC-targeting drugs that we have identified, so that we can identify the best BAALC-targeting drug to be moved into the clinic.

Mark Hughes Foundation Brain Cancer Care Co-ordinator

Hunter New England Local Health District

This project most importantly assists patients and their families with support through diagnosis, treatment, access to clinical trials, follow-up on discharge and end of life care. Jane Morrison was initially seconded to this role while recruitment took place.