We have a range of specific projects for individual or corporate donors wishing to contribute to the fundraising for ‘special projects’, either by purchasing a new piece of laboratory equipment or by funding specific research into a disease or area of interest.
Some of the current projects Cure The Future are working on include:
Inherited bleeding disorders like haemophilia were first recognised 2000 years ago and they cause incredible suffering throughout the world. Despite painstaking background research in the laboratory and using ethical animal models, the last decade highlights a recurring theme of “two steps forward, one step back”. Several Some years ago we initiated a clinical trial with collaborators in the USA designed to cure haemophilia. A single injection of a modified, safe virus carrying the therapeutic haemophilia gene was delivered into a blood vessel that supplies the liver – akin to providing the medicine in a Trojan Horse designed to disappear once inside the body. In one of the two Australian patients we saw a gratifying increase in the previously-absent haemophilia factor, only to be subsequently thwarted by an unexpected immune response. The short-term success of this study was rewarded by an apparent clinical improvement in the frequency of bleeding suffered by our patient. The importance of this research was recognised internationally by two publications in the highly-prestigious journal Nature Medicine.
Prostate Cancer Leukaemias
The main focus of this project is a cellular regulator we identified several years ago called BORIS and its relative, CTCF. Normally dormant in all cells outside the male reproductive organs, BORIS is reactivated in many cancers. This project will study the network of factors perturbed when BORIS becomes inappropriately active in cancer cells. Ultimately, this project may lead to new treatments for not only prostate cancer but many other forms of cancers.
Heart Attacks and Strokes
Diseases resulting from the accumulation of fats in our blood vessels account for an enormous amount of suffering in our community, including premature heart attacks and strokes. In collaboration with the Heart Research Institute, we are investigating the effects of specific chemicals (‘enzymes’ which modify cholesterol and other fats) delivered to tissues using sophisticated gene transfer technology. By providing an increased understanding of the mechanisms by which fat is metabolised in the body we expect to shed light on the causes of atherosclerosis.
Time and again, a greater understanding of the molecular basis of normal blood cell production has provided insights into its devastating malignant counterpart known as leukaemia. Over many years, we have been carefully examining the controls of blood cell production both in terms of signals between cells and those required within each cell. Most recently, we have devoted considerable resources in studying a set of tiny chemicals called microRNAs, of which there are many hundreds. Amazingly, these chemicals were ignored until relatively recently when they were the subject of the Nobel Prize in 2006. They are now known to provide important regulatory signals within cells and abnormalities in them may lead to leukaemia. By understanding the role these molecules play in disease causation, this project may lead to developing opportunities for therapeutic treatments for leukaemia and other blood related diseases.