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 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.

Update:

There is an on-going commitment to collect samples (solid tissue, blood samples and other human tissues) that can be used in brain cancer research and the biobank will continue to collect and store samples as essential research infrastructure.

The MHF BCB staff are continually investigating options to add value to the types and quantities of tissue held within the biobank and ways to assist with supplying biospecimens for brain cancer research. New initiatives are implemented according to the capacity of the MFH BCB staff to adopt them and continue to provide the quality service to the existing initiatives and participants.

Now that the infrastructure is well embedded to routinely recruit and collect biospecimens from brain cancer patients according to a standard protocol, we are expanding our service provision to the research community to assist with patient recruitment and biospecimen collection for protocol driven projects which require specific processing protocols (such as GBM 001 and GBM 002 in Table 4 above). This will augment our current biobank services and support more projects that utilise the solid tissue and blood samples for research. Without the infrastructure of the MHF BCB it would not be possible to support these protocol driven collections.

Four research projects are currently utilising the MHF Biobank samples.

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.

Update:

Sandy Nixon took on this role during 2016.

Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia

Underpinning Australian brain cancer research: creating the resources essential to accelerate access and sharing of biospecimens and associated clinical data vital to advancing research in brain cancer.

Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia is committed to supporting research performed by clinicians and scientists working in both the paediatric and adult brain cancer fields. The consortium has been established under the umbrella of the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO) with the goal of accelerating brain cancer research and the translation of that research into improved outcomes in patient care.

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

World Federation of Neuro-Oncology Societies Conference – Sandy Nixon
Sandy travelled to Zurich to present a poster outlining the best practice model of care-coordination funded by the MHF through Hunter New England Health District.

Update:

10th COGNO Annual Scientific Meeting
- Kaye Duffy
- Alisha Gooley

MHF Mid- Career Clinical Research Fellowship in Brain Cancer

Researchers: Dr. Mike Fay

Funded by the Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF), nationally renowned radiation oncologist Dr Mike Fay has been named the inaugural recipient of a three-year HMRI Mid-Career Research Fellowship dedicated to brain cancer.

As a clinical expert in advanced imaging for brain tumours, Dr Fay’s research forte is developing scanning markers and targeted therapies for cancer cells that resist current treatments.

Online Updates on Mike’s research:
https://hmri.org.au/news-article/radiation-warhead-brain-cancer
https://hmri.org.au/news-article/brain-cancer-treatment-extending-survival

The Aim-BRAIN Project

Robert Connor Dawes Foundation

Championed by the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation in collaboration with ANZCHOG this project will ensure that every child in Australia and New Zealand has the opportunity to rapidly access the best and most accurate diagnostic information about their brain tumour to inform their treatment pathways and optimise their chance of survival. It will also build capacity within Australasia to future-proof our ability to participate in research (including clinical trials) that stratify patients by molecular profiling.   

Investigating a new class of drugs for the treatment of 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. Positive results from this project could lead to clinical trials of our new drugs in glioblastoma patients. As BAALC-targeting drugs have not been administered to humans, Phase I safety trials would be required prior to the commencement of Phase II and III clinical trials. 

Identifying the genetic basis of childhood brain tumours by exome sequencing

Researchers: Laureate Professor Rodney Scott

The aim of this exploratory study will be to identify unequivocal rare genetic variants that are associated with disease and to determine the inheritance pattern of the offending variant. This will be achieved in performing exome sequencing (examining all of the coding regions in the genome in a single assay) on a selection of DNA samples derived from patients with a brain tumour and their parents.