Research programs

Research programs

In only a few short years, the Centre has embarked on a range of research programs, both nationally and internationally.

Under the broader themes of immune profiling, stem cell modelling and cancer clone therapeutics; researchers are using cellular genomics to study the genetic risk of disease across cell development stages, find ‘cancer causing’ cells in tumour environments and the genetic variants that may cause immune disease.

Collaborative research projects

Cancer Cell Therapeutics

Recent years have seen significant advances in the understanding of cancer through improvements in cell sequencing and computational technology. However, challenges still existed in designing an approach that is powerful enough to profile complex systems such as those seen in blood cancer patients.

Until recently, it was not possible to accurately identify cancer causing cells in a tumour, or their effects on cell ‘fitness’.
At the Garvan-Weizmann Centre of Cellular Genomics, we have now developed methods to identify these cells.

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Representation of a ‘rogue clone’ in the blood
Representation of a ‘rogue clone’ in the blood

Hope Research: finding hope for autoimmune disease

Researchers at the Garvan and Weizmann Institute have uncovered evidence that there is a common cause of autoimmune diseases, a cell in the immune system that has gone ‘rogue’. To keep up with invading viruses and bacteria, which rapidly mutate to evade detection and destruction, the cells of our immune system must change just as quickly. 

‘Bad mutations’ are an inevitable result of these rapid changes, with these cells more likely to multiply and form a rogue clone in response to the body’s own tissues.

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OneK1K

OneK1K is a pioneering study that is demonstrating how genetics contribute to the risk of immune disease at a cellular level. Using the ground-breaking technology of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics, we can now work towards solving one of the missing pieces of the puzzle.

By analysing 1000 cells from 1000 people, Onek1K will have an impact on three main areas: autoimmunity, immuno-oncology and haematology disease.

The study aims to identify and prioritise new drug targets for specific cell types in individual patients. This will initially enable patients to better manage their disease, but ultimately to prevent an autoimmune disease from developing altogether.

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Stem Cells

Through a major research effort, we now know that stem cells hold the potential to provide new options for tissue repair as well as rapid and cost-effective drug development.

In collaboration with leading stem cell scientists across Australia and the UK, the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics is using single cell sequencing and advanced machine learning to investigate how the genetic risk for disease varies across cell development stages. Led by A/Prof Joseph Powell, the team have demonstrated how the genetic risk for myocardial infarction (heart attacks) can be shown to vary across cardiac muscle cell developmental states.

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