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

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.

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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.

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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 >