Our achievements in
2020-21

Read through some of our recent highlights and important findings.

Rapid genomics strategy to trace coronavirus

Thanks to cutting-edge ‘Nanopore’ genome sequencing technology, researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney have developed the most rapid coronavirus genome sequencing strategy in Australia to date. The technological advance has the potential to provide critical, timely clues on how cases of SARSCoV-2 infection are linked.
 

Breast cancer ‘ecosystem’ reveals possible new treatment

Researchers have uncovered four new subtypes of cells within triple negative breast cancer, which contain promising new therapeutic targets for the aggressive disease. One of the new cell types produces molecules that suppress immune cells, which may help cancer cells evade the body’s immune system, and could lead to a new class of therapies.
 

Cancer resistance mechanism revealed

Researchers revealed that cancer cells can turn on error-prone DNA copy pathways to resist cancer treatment, using the same process as bacteria does to develop antibiotic resistance. Understanding how cancer cells can resist current treatments will help lead to more effective therapeutic strategies.
 

New insights for vaccine development

Researchers have uncovered a key strategy the immune system uses to generate effective antibodies, which could inform vaccine design for some of the most challenging viruses.
 

Treatment linked to slow cognitive decline

A six-year study of older Australians with type 2 diabetes has uncovered a link between metformin use, slower cognitive decline and lower dementia rates. Metformin is the first-line treatment for most cases of type 2 diabetes and one of the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide, with millions of individuals using it to optimise their blood glucose levels.
 

Vast potential of genomics-driven medicine uncovered

Using cellular genomics, researchers have uncovered new links between DNA variants and cell gene activity, a crucial step forward in understanding how our DNA influences our personal disease risk.
 

Immune system targeted to treat rare cancer

A genetic diagnosis led to the successful treatment of a 52-year old man, guiding immune therapy for his rare cancer and providing relief after a lifetime of unexplained immune symptoms. By administering a common immunosuppressant drug, researchers were able to rebalance the patient’s immune system and treat his Kaposi’s sarcoma. The treatment also improved a number of other symptoms that had affected him all of his life and his cancer is now in remission.
 

New bone cell discovered

Garvan researchers have discovered a new type of bone cell that may reveal new therapeutic approaches for osteoporosis and other skeletal diseases. The new cells, termed ‘osteomorphs’, are found in the blood and bone marrow, and fuse together to form ‘osteoclasts’, which are specialised cells that break down bone tissue. They have a unique genomic profile that reveals promising and as yet unexplored possibilities for therapy.