Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine

Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine

Data from anti-cancer drug development experiments
The Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine division uses high-throughput technologies to understand global changes in biological systems, and to inform therapeutic decisions. The technologies – including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, chemical and genetic screens – are improving our understanding of cancers, immune disorders and infectious diseases.

Improving bowel cancer treatment

Recent advances in bowel cancer research have increased the number of treatment strategies available for this disease. For many people with bowel cancer, an effective treatment is only identified after they have failed to respond to one or more other treatments.

Dr Jeanne Tie and Associate Professor Peter Gibbs have used changes in the level of tumour DNA in bowel cancer patients’ blood to identify early responses to treatment, well before changes could be detected with currently used imaging tests. This discovery may accelerate decisions about whether people with bowel cancer are responding to a treatment, enabling those who are not responding to switch to a potentially better treatment for their disease far sooner than is currently feasible.

New equipment boosts MS research

Flow cytometry is a powerful technique that allows researchers to separate individual cells within a sample. The institute’s flow cytometry facility, headed by Mr Simon Monard, is part of the Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine division.

In recognition of the institute’s centenary, the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust provided funds for the purchase of a flow cytometry instrument that is aiding the institute’s research into multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating, chronic neurological condition. Dr Simon Willis is using the new instrument to purify specifi c types of immune cells from the blood of people with MS, as part of his research into the causes of this condition. Dr Willis is the recipient of the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust Centenary Fellowship which will support his research work into MS over the next four years.

Uncovering the causes of chemoresistance

A gift from the Janko-Inge Foundation is allowing division scientists to understand why some people with cancer do not respond to their treatment. The donation has enabled a study by Professor Liam O’Connor that is using gene editing technology to understand the genetic changes that occur in cancer cells when they become resistant to chemotherapy.

The outcomes of this research have the potential to shift cancer treatment from a ‘one size fi ts all’ approach to a new personalised strategy where gene sequencing data is used to determine the most eff ective treatment for an individual with cancer.

Health impact

Cancers: bowel cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma, melanoma, stomach cancer

Immune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Infectious disease: malaria, vaccines

Other areas: antivenoms, congenital disease, personalised medicine

Systems Biology Mascot Server

Mascot is a powerful search engine that uses mass spectrometry data to identify proteins from primary sequence databases. To assist you, the help text for Mascot forms a substantial knowledge base concerning protein identification by MS.

You can also access useful Mascot server tools.

Acting division heads

Associate Professor Oliver Sieber

Dr Andrew Webb

Lab heads

Associate Professor Peter Gibbs

Mr Simon Monard

Dr Kelly Rogers

Dr Hélène Jousset Sabroux

Dr Ian Street

Dr Stephen Wilcox

Division coordinator

Lisa Connolly