Approved Projects for funding

Breast Cancer - Developing new treatments for Breast Cancers that do not respond to current treatments

  • Leading Melbourne Research Group (Name withheld for confidentiality reasons)

  • Professors Shani Paluch-Shimon and Bella Kaufman - The Sheba Medical Centre at Tel Hashomer Hospital, Israel

This project involves looking at tumours from women that don't respond to current breast cancer treatments. These women tend to be younger and some have an inherited mutated BRCA1 or 2 gene as the reason for their cancer. These same genes are a particular issue for Ashkenazi (European) Jews, as they have a 10 times higher incidence (1 in 40) of having these genes than the rest of the population. Studying these tumours will help understand why these women don't respond to treatments

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Brain Tumours - Developing a blood test for assisting the treatment of Glioma brain tumours

  • Professor Andrew Kay - Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne

  • Professor Tali Siegal - The Leslie and Michael Gaffin Center for Neuro-Oncology, Department of Neurosurgery, Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital

Brain tumours are the highest cause of death in children from solid tumours. Brain tumours are known to release miniscule amounts of DNA into the bloodstream, where it is hoped that it can be detected via a simple blood test. Dr Siegal from Hadassah Medical Centre, have pioneered the study of circulating tumour-specific DNA and found that this DNA as well as using other markers in the blood, could provide a highly sensitive and specific test to measure if a treatment is effective in reducing growth of a glioma.

In this project, Andrew Kaye will use his world renowned expertise on Gliomas and his cohort of 310 glioma patients from another study, at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to determine whether the blood test from Israel for tumour-specific DNA does in fact provide a useful clinical biomarker to assess the effectiveness of cancer treatments for Gliomas. If the test is validated, it will show if a treatment is working or not and will greatly assist the management of treatment.

Bowel Cancer - Developing a new treatment for bowel cancers that overproduce EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptors) that do not respond to current treatments

  • Leading Melbourne Research Group (Name withheld for confidentiality reasons)

  • Professor Alexander Levitski - Department of Biological Chemistry, The Hebrew University , Jerusalem

This project is investigating malignant tumours which over-produce EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptors). These tumours are found in bowel cancer (the second highest cause of cancer after lung cancer) head and neck, non-small cell lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and breast cancer. The current treatments available for these tumours are only effective in 60% of tumours. There is no treatment available for the remaining 40% of these tumours.

Heart Disease - Development of a new therapy for treatment of heart disease

  • Professor John Horowitz - The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South, Adelaide

  • Professor Ilana Nathan - Ben Gurion University

To date, the only treatment available at the time of a heart attack to prevent muscle damage and cell death in the heart, is high pressure oxygen, usually administered by paramedics at the scene of a heart attack. There is now some doubt about the benefit of this treatment. So there is need for development of an effective treatment for heart attack.

The present study aims to investigate novel inhibiting agents recently discovered by these scientists, that have the potential to inhibit a particular enzyme and stop cell damage in the heart during a heart attack. If these inhibitors prove to be effective, they have the potential to be developed into a drug that will protect the heart from being damaged prior to or during a heart attack. These agents will first be tested by Professor Nathan carrying out “in vitro” or chemical studies in the lab. Professor Horowitz will then be carrying out the “in vivo” testing of these agents in animals.

Prostate Cancer - Developing a new treatment for prostate cancers that do not respond to current treatments

  • Associate Professor Ygal Haupt - Peter McCallum Cancer Research Institute

  • Professor Abraham Rubinstein - Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University (former Head of Research at Teva Pharmacuticals) 

This team has previously worked and published together in cancer treatments. This project is about developing a new drug for men with drug resistant prostate cancer.

In this project, Associate Professor Haupt will be using his recent discovery about the effective dosage using a protein called p53 (which is a well known agent that kills tumour cells) with other chemotherapy drugs. The resulting drug will then be combined onto a specially formulated hydrogel matrix or “Trojan Horse” (developed in Israel by Professor Rubinstein), which is a unique way of delivering the drug to the specific cancer site. This combination of drug and delivery gel will then be tested in animals with prostate cancer to see if it is effective. This treatment has the potential to treat bowel cancer as well.

Community Child Health - The Goshen Project to improve mental health of young Israeli children

  • Professor Frank Oberklaid - The Royal Children's Hospital

  • Goshen National Centre for Community Child Health

This project, which was initiated by Hadassah Australia and which AUSiMED now support jointly with Hadassah, involves Professor Frank Oberklaid transferring his knowledge to the Goshen National Centre for Community Child Health about how to ensure that children under the age of 5 with behavioural issues (particularly from disadvantaged communities), can be better managed to assist the child develop normally and not leave the child with long term behavioural issues that are difficulty to correct later.