Research programs

Research programs

Like any far-reaching and ambitious medical research initiative, the Garvan-Weizmann partnership relies heavily on support and investment from generous and forward-thinking individuals and organisations.

Vital initial investment from the NSW Government, Mr John Roth and Ms Jillian Segal AM, Mr and Mrs Laurie and Di Sutton and Mr Johnny Kahlbetzer has funded the construction of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics.

Collaborative research projects

We are delighted to introduce five inaugural research projects – all existing collaborations between Garvan and Weizmann researchers – that mark just the beginning of the research program within the Garvan-Weizmann partnership.

Identifying which individuals with prediabetes will respond to a medication, and which will not
Identifying which individuals with prediabetes will respond to a medication, and which will not

Towards personalised medicine for pre-diabetes

Researchers from Garvan and the Weizmann Institute are working together to understand how different types of pre-diabetes can be distinguished in patients — with the aim of improving treatment and stemming the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes.

“Previously, it hasn’t been possible to identify the different forms of pre-diabetes, or to tailor treatments to specific patients — but our study proposes to change that,” says Dr Dorit Samocha-Bonet.

In the first instance, the study will recruit 150 volunteers. Researchers will measure a host of parameters including body fat, liver fat, blood parameters, physical activity, sleep patterns, diet and —importantly — the individual’s genome sequence and the genome sequence of gut microbes, which gives a readout of each individual’s ‘microbiome’.

Read more
Single-cell transcriptomics of MDSC cells from breast tumours
Single-cell transcriptomics of MDSC cells from breast tumours

Unleashing the potential of immunotherapies for breast cancer

Garvan breast cancer researchers Dr David Gallego-Ortega and Professor Chris Ormandy, with Weizmann’s Professor Ido Amit, are working to make immunotherapies an effective treatment for breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women — yet, for about a third of individuals with breast cancer, treatment options are very limited,” says Dr Gallego- Ortega. “So, there’s an urgent need to explore other treatment options to ensure that those individuals aren’t left behind.”

Immunotherapies, which ‘re-educate’ the immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells, have achieved exceptional success against some types of cancers, particularly lung cancer and melanoma. In breast cancers, however, immunotherapy has been disappointing — because, in breast tumours, the immune system’s function is ‘dialed down’ and immunotherapies can’t  work effectively.

Read more
Visualising sleeping cancer cells within bone
Visualising sleeping cancer cells within bone

Zeroing in on the cancer cells that 'sleep' in bone

Garvan and Weizmann researchers, led by Professor Peter CroucherDr Tri Phan and Professor Ido Amit, are working together to solve why some cancer cells ‘sleep’ in bone for months or even years — and how their genetic output changes as they ‘wake’.

The researchers are studying multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood in which cells lodge in bone. Already, they have isolated thousands of individual myeloma cells from bone and conducted two different kinds of single-cell analyses to measure the genetic output of a cell.

The research team has identified clusters of active genes that appear to act as ‘signatures’ of dormant myeloma cells. They are following up leads of ‘dormancy genes’ that are active in sleeping cells and so could be targeted with therapies — which could ‘force out’ and awaken dormant cells so they can be destroyed by chemotherapy.

Read more
Next-generation whole genome sequencing
Next-generation whole genome sequencing

Towards personalised medicine in melanoma: who will respond to immunotherapy?

he Garvan-Weizmann partnership will play an important role in the melanoma research of Professor Yardena Samuels (Weizmann Institute). Professor Samuels is working to understand how melanomas vary between individuals, with the aim of predicting which cancers will respond to immunotherapy.

Immunotherapies — which ‘turn on’ the immune system and empower it to attack tumours — are currently at the forefront of revolutionary cancer treatment. Immunotherapy based on the body’s T cells (a type of white blood cell involved in the body’s immune system), has achieved remarkable results in some melanoma patients, yet most patients still fail to respond to T cell-mediated immunotherapy, and little is understood about why.

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

Hope Research: finding the ‘rogue clones’ at the root of autoimmune disease

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute and Garvan, led by Professor Chris Goodnow and Professor Ido Amit, are using cellular genomics to uncover ‘rogue clones’ of blood cells that give rise to many autoimmune diseases and blood cancers. They will identify vulnerabilities in these rogue clones to immunotherapy or other  drugs,  with  the  ultimate aim of eradicating them from the body.

 

Hope Research >