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From the acting director

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Autumn ‘24
Key Researchers
Deputy Director
Prof Alan Cowman

Welcome to the Autumn edition of Illuminate.

This edition features landmark research in critical areas and insights into the inspiring people behind the discoveries.

We highlight exciting work that could lead to the first early detection test for pancreatic cancer.

Survival rates for the disease remain poor with diagnosis often coming after the cancer has spread. WEHI researchers have identified the key proteins that could become the first blood-based biomarkers for the disease.

Leading researchers

Clinician-scientists play a critical role in translating lab discoveries into real-world health outcomes. In our feature article meet Dr Jessica Day, who divides her time between the WEHI labs and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, working to improve outcomes for people living with myositis – a group of rare autoimmune diseases that cause muscle inflammation.

‘Bright sparks’ profiles PhD researcher Joel Moffat who works in bioinformatics and with The Brain Cancer Centre, using a range of cutting-edge technologies to analyse cancer cells.

Towards new treatments

A WEHI-led discovery has spurred an international clinical trial that aims to improve treatment options for the two most lethal gynaecological cancers. Ovarian and uterine carcinosarcomas are commonly diagnosed at the advanced stage, leaving women with few treatment options. Read about the trial investigating a new combination therapy that offers hope for women with these relapsing cancers.

The cancer drug venetoclax, which was based on a groundbreaking research discovery at WEHI, has shown promise in killing ‘silent’ HIV cells, in research that has led to a new clinical trial in Denmark.

And our researchers have helped uncover how a mutant protein that is found in half of all cancers drives tumor growth, a critical finding that paves the way for more targeted treatments in the future.

Collaborative impact

WEHI runs one of the first and largest consumer programs of its kind in Australia, where people with lived experience connect with our scientists to help advance their research. ‘Brighter together’ profiles the relationship between Associate Professor Grant Dewson and consumer Sheenagh Bottrell, who uses her personal lived experience of early onset Parkinson’s to elevate research into the disease.

For our research to have impact, philanthropic support is essential. In ‘Powered by Philanthropy’ learn about how two organisations, funds management firm Munro Partners and The Flack Trust, are supporting vital research into the genetic causes of autoimmune diseases.

Our donors and supporters really do power everything that we do. Thanks to all of you for your ongoing support, and for being an integral part of the WEHI community.

First published on 01 March 2024
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Autumn ‘24
WEHI Authors
Deputy Director
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