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Australian Rotary Health (ARH) sponsors a range of scholarships to students working in various fields of health. These range from undergraduate scholarships, indigenous scholarships, PhD scholarships to Post Doctoral Fellowships.
In a recent report on activities to the ARH Board, project officer Cheryl Deguara reported on projects from two of the recently awarded PhD scholars.
Hannah S
‘Proteomic and Molecular Investigations into the Diagnosis and Progression of Motor Neuron Disease by the Identification of Biomarkers found in Plasma‘(Motor Neurone Disease)
Macquarie University, NSW Alaine Davidson PhD (D9650)
Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease that can be difficult to confidently diagnose during its early stages due to misinterpretation of signs and symptoms as other
neurodegenerative diseases. This is an important issue, as confident diagnosis early in disease would ultimately allow earlier treatment to delay or halt the disease along with aiding in possible treatment monitoring. This may be achieved through the discovery of biomarkers to enable clinicians, patients
and families with a clearer understanding of the disease and improve patient outcomes.
Biomarkers can be elevated/reduced protein levels found within bodily fluids such as blood plasma. These biomarkers are easily detectable and indicate to a clinician whether a disease is present in a patient. From studying biomarkers, a diagnosis can be obtained, and the measurement of disease
progression can be monitored. Additionally, medications could be personalised to the patients to ensure best possible outcomes for both the patient in management of disease and quality of life.
This project will use protein discovery and analysis techniques to identify and target potential biomarkers from MND patient plasma samples.
Dr Atandrila D
‘Characterising Colorectal Metastases and Optimising their Management’ (Bowel Cancer)
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Vic –– Rotary Club of Keilor ‘Judith Annette Thompson’ PhD
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, and second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Among those with metastatic disease, liver is the most common site for metastasis.
Despite advances in the treatment of colorectal liver metastases (CRLM), recurrence rates reach up to 70%. About half of these patients are not amenable for treatment via local therapy.
Recently, anti-tumour responses have been seen with the use of immunotherapy, such as checkpoint inhibitors – PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors. The impact of mucosal associated invariant T-cell (MAIT) infiltration has also been identified as having the potential to directly impact on tumour
response to immunotherapy. This leads to the possibility of applying immunotherapy to the management of CRLM.
HYPOTHESIS - We hypothesise that colorectal liver metastasis has deranged pathway signalling that affect cell fate, differentiation and immune control. The identification of these pathways will lead to development of more focused therapies to improve the management of CRLM.