Dr Celia Keane
Department of Surgery, University of Auckland
The overall aim of this research is to critically advance the clinical understanding and therapy of Anterior Resection Syndrome (ARS). ARS is a poorly understood, though common, consequence of colorectal cancer surgery, and is associated with significantly compromised long-term quality of life in affected patients. This aim will be achieved by undertaking a literature review, achieving a consensus definition of ARS, investigating pathophysiological mechanisms in a prospective cohort, and studying neuromodulation therapies. This work will add to both patient and clinician understanding of ARS and will have implications for pre-operative patient counselling and patient selection. With a pathophysiological definition of ARS, work can be focused on targeted therapies to ultimately improve individual patient outcomes and quality of life.
Funded by: Ruth Spencer Trust
Mr Petr Tomek
Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, University of Auckland
Our immune system can seek out and destroy cancer cells. However, tumours have evolved a number of mechanisms to escape destruction by the immune cells. These mechanisms need to be blocked in order to restore the ability of the immune cells to fight the cancer. We have developed novel agents that inactivate an enzyme called IDO1 used by cancers to disable the patient’s immune cells. IDO1 depletes the essential amino acid tryptophan required for all cells to grow. The immune cells cannot function properly at low tryptophan levels and become inactivated and die. The question being asked in this research is how do the cancer cells themselves overcome the tryptophan deprivation? We hypothesise that a protein called IMPACT plays a critical role in differentially regulating the responses of cancer cells and immune cells to the tryptophan deprivation. Our research aims to find the role of IMPACT on the survival of cancer cells during tryptophan deprivation induced by IDO1. This study will advance our understanding of the self-protective mechanisms used by cancer cells. This information will help us to develop novel approaches for treatment of cancer; our current number one cause of death in New Zealand.
Funded by: Edith C Coan Trust
Dr Sandar Tin Tin
Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Auckland
Lung cancer remains a leading cause of cancer mortality in New Zealand and worldwide. New models of cancer care using genotype-directed targeted therapies have strong potential to improve survival outcomes but have received little attention in the New Zealand health care system. The proposed research aims to investigate the prevalence, demographic profiles and clinical outcomes of genetically-defined subtypes of lung cancer and accessibility of genetic testing and targeted therapy in a large nationwide cohort of lung cancer patients, using a number of data sources including New Zealand Cancer Registry, individual patient medical records, laboratory reports, drug dispensing records, PHARMAC records of Special Authority approval, hospital discharge data and mortality records. The findings will then be compared with those from other population-based studies worldwide. This will facilitate policy development regarding nationally standardised strategies for genotype-directed targeted therapy in lung cancer patients in New Zealand.
Funded by: David and Cassie Anderson Medical Trust
Ms Erica Burns
School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland
As the levels of obesity in our population continue to increase, there is a resulting rise in the prevalence of diabetes. Therefore, treatments are desperately needed to help individuals with diabetes control their blood sugar fluctuations and prevent life-threatening complications such as stroke and heart failure. A natural hormone called amylin stabilizes blood sugar levels after eating as well as inducing a feeling of fullness, reducing meal size and ultimately helping patients to lose weight. Mimicking amylin’s effects is a successful strategy for treating diabetes as well as for treating obese individuals at risk of developing diabetes. This project will investigate the ability of amylin to produce a sustained response at its site of action. This will help to evaluate its potential as a long-term treatment option.
Funded by: Barbara Basham Medical Charitable Trust
Mr Terence Loftus
Department of Physiology, University of Auckland
Each year similar numbers of males and females die of heart failure. However, current treatment strategies for heart failure have been developed based on evidence obtained primarily from males. This bias in research towards the use of male subjects may have led to treatment strategies for heart failure that are not optimal for females, with evidence suggesting that they are less effective in women than men. In women, ovarian hormones appear to be somewhat cardioprotective as the precipitous fall in sex hormones during menopause coincides with a significant increase in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. But what happens after these sex hormones are no longer there? Presently, the evidence simply does not exist to answer this question as the fundamental mechanisms underlying any sex based differences in cardiovascular control are unknown. Using highly specialised techniques this project aims to help uncover the mechanisms that drive heart failure development and progression in women. In particular, the project aims to determine the role of both the nerves and the angiotensin system in mediating heart failure development and progression in females. Ultimately, the research will provide fundamental evidence on which to base sex-specific treatments of heart failure.
Funded by: Henry Cotton Charitable Trust