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News and Reviews

Potential new treatment for prostate cancer receives $5M funding boost

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Prostate cancer research investigating the potential of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy.

Potential new treatment for prostate cancer receives $5M funding boost

 

Monash University 

A newly funded Monash University-led research program will investigate the potential of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy, previously only effective in blood cancers, for the treatment of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and remains a leading cause of death worldwide. At present, there is no cure for advanced prostate cancer.

A multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional team of researchers has been awarded a $5 million Synergy Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to develop highly-tailored treatments for prostate cancer, using next-generation CAR T cell therapy.

NHMRC Synergy Grants support outstanding multidisciplinary teams of investigators to answer major questions that cannot be answered by a single investigator.

CAR T cell therapy uses the body’s own immune system T cells and has transformed treatment for some blood cancers. However, CAR T cell therapy could also be effective in solid cancers including prostate cancer, based on recent evidence published by members of the new Synergy team.

The Synergy Grant program will be led by Professor Gail Risbridger from Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI)Professor Phillip Darcy from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Professor Paul Timpson from The Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Doctors looking at prostate cancer and investigating the potential of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy

Synergy grant collaborators. L-R, top row: CIA Professor Gail Risbridger (Monash University), CIB Professor Phillip Darcy (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), CIC Professor Paul Timpson (The Garvan Institute of Medical Research); L-R bottom row: CID Professor Renea Taylor (Monash University), CIE Associate Professor Daniela Loessner (Monash University), CIF Professor Ian Davis (Monash University)

Professor Risbridger explained that the best evidence for the usefulness of CAR T cell therapy so far has been in blood cancers. She said that the importance of the team’s approach was the discovery that this therapy could be effective in attacking solid cancers when modulated with chemotherapy.

“This program has been long in the making, with a number of different strands of research only coming together now. For example, my colleague and co-chief investigator Professor Renea Taylor and I are not immunologists, we are cancer biologists with lifetime experience in researching prostate cancer, and working with cancer patients and consumer advocates,” Professor Risbridger said.

“So we are bringing together people with all the expertise we need, to get them closely aligned on this particular problem. We will be working with bioengineers including Monash University’s Associate Professor Daniela Loessner, cancer biologists, immunologists and clinicians including Professor Ian Davis to bring fresh perspectives to the issues, develop a unified approach, and speed up the development of CAR T treatment.”

Monash BDI’s Professor Renea Taylor, one of the chief investigators on the team, said, “We know that CAR T cells currently don’t work as well as they might on solid tumours because we’ve done our own clinical studies that highlighted a number of issues. These include how the tumour creates a microenvironment toxic to the attacking T cells, and how the CAR T cells themselves don’t move or stay in the right place as well as they could.”

The project is split into two parts. In the first part, the team will use a range of animal models and human cell samples in the laboratory to describe the changes in cells that happen in the tumour microenvironment (TME) that make it easier for T cells to enter tumours.

Professor Timpson said, “We will also improve our static snapshot data by using live imaging deep inside the tumour to see the effects of drugs in real time. This means we can follow the entry of T cells into living tissues, showing how cells move, where they move to, where they stay in place, and how long they actually take to move around. It’s the same idea as Google map location history  – you know where you’ve been, how often and for how long.

Prostate cancer research investigating the potential of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy.

A newly funded Monash University-led research program will investigate the potential of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy, previously only effective in blood cancers, for the treatment of prostate cancer.

“This mapping of cell activity in the TME will give us the information we need to customise both the T cell type, and the chemotherapy drug regimen which modulates the T cells, so we will develop an array which will allow tailored treatments.”

In the second part of the project, the team will use cutting-edge engineering and manufacturing methods to improve the production of CAR T cells, which will help T cells move to where they need to be in the body, stay alive, and work effectively to kill prostate cancer cells.

Professor Darcy said, “We want our cells to drive to their intended destinations in the least amount of time and with the fewest accidents.”

The team’s new technologies and extensive biology knowledge will help them understand the basic physiological mechanisms enabling the therapies to kill cancers. They will test their new CAR T cell production technologies on tissues donated by patients, genetically compatible mouse models, and 3D platforms.

Professor Ian Davis, who is based at Monash University’s Eastern Health Clinical School and is the clinical lead for the program, said, “Overall, our team will fill in a lot of the gaps in our knowledge and skills that are needed to get CAR T cells into clinical use. By the end of our program, we will have made next-generation CAR T cells that can be quickly given to patients, knowing the right pre-treatment steps and how best to match the patients to the therapy to ensure success.

“Potentially, this project will enable us to develop highly tailored treatments for a variety of solid cancers, not just prostate. Our hope is that we may finally have a weapon in the solid cancer therapy armoury that can by-pass the barriers and get to the cancers.”

 

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News and Reviews

UPDATE: Fatal single-vehicle crash – Lane Cove

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UPDATE: Fatal single-vehicle crash – Lane Cove

 

A driver has died following a single-vehicle crash in Lane Cove on Sydney’s Lower North Shore this morning.

Just after 4am (Tuesday 9 April 2024), emergency services responded to Epping Road, Lane Cove, after reports of a single-vehicle crash.

The Mitsubishi Mirage appears to have lost control and hit multiple traffic lights at the intersection of Mowbray Road before spinning and flipping a number of times.

The male driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, died at the scene. He is yet to be formally identified.

Officers from North Shore Police Area Command established a crime scene which has since been examined by specialist officers attached to the Crash Investigation Unit.

An investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding the crash and a report will be prepared for the information of the coroner.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or visit here. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

 

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Man charged over alleged home invasion – Kingscliff

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Man charged over alleged home invasion – Kingscliff

Thursday, 11 April 2024 01:29:40 AM

A man will face court today charged over an alleged home invasion on the state’s north coast, resulting in the death of a man and another seriously injured.

Emergency services responded to a concern for welfare at a home on Oxford Street, Kingscliff, just after 8pm on Tuesday (9 April 2024).

Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District attended and found a 29-year-old man with a stab wound. He was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics; however, died at the scene.

The occupant of the home, a 66-year-old man, was also found suffering significant arm injuries. He was airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital where he underwent surgery and remains in a stable condition.

A crime scene was established at the home and detectives commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident under Strike Force Chams.

Following inquiries, a 26-year-old man was arrested at a Kingscliff home about 5.30pm last night (Wednesday 10 April 2024).

He was taken to Tweed Heads Police Station where he was charged with special aggravated break and enter and commit serious indictable offence.

Police will allege in court that the man forced entry to the home and assaulted the occupant before fleeing.

The man was refused bail to appear at Tweed Heads Local Court today (Thursday 10 April 2024).

As investigations under Strike Force Chams continue, anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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News and Reviews

NSW Government looks to expand rice export industry

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rice export industry

NSW Government looks to expand rice export industry

 

The NSW Government will introduce a Bill to Parliament in May, to develop a new rice marketing and trade arrangement for the Northern Rivers rice export industry growing region. This is an important step in the NSW Government’s commitment to bring new opportunities to the state’s agriculture sector, and to ensure regulations do not hinder industry growth.

At the same time the NSW Government has committed to rice growers in Southern NSW and will keep existing rice vesting arrangements in place for that region with a review by 30 June 2029. This will ensure export marketing continuity for Australia’s largest rice exporting region.

These new arrangements will provide new opportunities for NSW agricultural exports – supporting a new emerging rice sector in the Northern Rivers that can contribute to expanding the state’s opportunities in overseas markets.

In practice, these changes will mean the Northern Rivers growers will for the first time be able to organise their own arrangement for exporting rice and not have to go through the vesting arrangements that binds growers in southern NSW. This aims to cut red tape and costs so the emerging Northern Rivers region can be assisted in developing.

The NSW Government’s actions recognise that there are two distinct rice growing regions in NSW and supports the implementation of changes which are considered responsible, appropriate and supportive to the continued development of both rice growing and exporting.

The NSW rice industry had an estimated farm gate value of $219 million in 2022-23. Presently around 98 per cent of NSW rice production occurs within the three southern irrigation regions of the Murrumbidgee, Coleambally and Murray.

The Bill will include a transitional start date of 1 September 2024 for the Northern Rivers arrangement, which will then occur after the 2024 Northern Rivers rice harvest.

These initiatives have been developed by the NSW Government after it was handed a report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), that was initiated by the former Liberal Nationals Government, recommending that the statutory marketing board for rice exports and its sole and exclusive export licence arrangement be removed.

The NSW Government has decided not to accept that ABARES recommendation because it wants to support and assist the rice sector to grow sustainably.

The Government will in its Bill also move to enhance the governance and transparency of the rice marketing arrangements to benefit the sector and growers.

The 2023 ABARES Independent Report into NSW Rice Vesting Arrangements and the NSW Government Response is available on the NSW DPI website.

Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Regional NSW, and Minister for Western NSW, Tara Moriarty said:

“The NSW Government is committed to creating new business opportunities for the state’s agricultural sector and we are taking action to do that for the rice industry by listening to their needs, cutting red tape and assisting growers expand their export potential.

“We are both recognising the needs and value of the established growers in the south and opening up opportunities for the emerging sector in the Northern Rivers.

“I want to acknowledge the valuable contributions made by stakeholder organisations and rice growers over the last year, who outlined what they thought was working, what wasn’t and how the Government could renew their export potential.

NSW RICE INDUSTRY

  • The NSW rice industry had an estimated farm gate value of $219 million in 2022-23 (DPI estimate) with an average farm gate value of $186 million over the past ten years.
    • The NSW rice industry is located across two separate regions of the State: Southern rice region: Roughly 97% to 99% of NSW rice production occurs within the three irrigation regions of the Murrumbidgee, Coleambally and Murray.
    • Northern rice region: A smaller quantity of rice is grown mainly within the Richmond Valley near Casino and Lismore and the Tweed Valley further North.
  • Australian (effectively NSW – as NSW makes up about 99% of national production) rice exports averaged $263 million over the past 10 financial years, ranging from $34 million in 2020-21 to $402 million in 2014-15. Rice exports are highly variable and predominantly influenced by water availability and the price of alternative crops, all of which determine supply.
  • Key Australian rice export markets include but are not limited to the following:
    • Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon)
    • Japan, South Korea, Taiwan
    • PNG, Solomon Islands, other Pacific nations
    • New Zealand

 

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