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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Aspirin to fight an expensive global killer infection – drug-resistant Tuberculosis

Research led by the Centenary Institute in Sydney has found a brand new target for treating drug-resistant tuberculosis; our scientists have uncovered that the tuberculosis bacterium hijacks platelets from the body’s blood clotting system to weaken our immune systems.

Tuberculosis is far from eradicated around the world and still infects more than 1,400 people per year in Australia. Antibiotic resistant tuberculosis is particularly deadly and expensive to treat, costing up to $250,000 to treat a single case in Australia. Scientists at the Centenary Institute have been working on new ways to treat tuberculosis by increasing the effectiveness of the immune system.

There are over 1.2 million Australians living with latent tuberculosis, a non-infectious form of TB that puts them at risk of developing the active disease. “Our study provides more crucial evidence that widely available aspirin could be used to treat patients with severe tuberculosis infection and save lives,” says Dr Hortle.

Video 1 – Green platelets zooming around the vasculature of a zebrafish embryo. Note some platelets stick to red macrophages infected by blue bacteria.

Video 2 – Zoomed in version of video 1 with visible blood vessels. Green platelets sticking to red blood vessels next to sites of infection by blue bacteria. Pathogenic platelets are the green cells that stick next to the bacteria for a few minutes.


Read the full Press Release.

See the full paper in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Learn more about this Research Laboratories work.

VIDEO: 2018 – A Year in Review

We would like to wish our generous supporters a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!

This year, your belief in our life-saving researcher has helped us:

  • Improve the diagnosis rate of a potentially deadly heart condition by up to 20 per cent.
  • Discover a potential new pathway for cancer therapies.
  • Boost the human body’s fight against melanoma by uncovering a new pathway in the body.
  • Gain new insight into the never-ending arms race between viruses and their hosts.
  • Uncover a brand new virus underpinning kidney disease.
  • Progress towards the development of a more effective vaccine against tuberculosis.
  • Uncover the causes and mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Discover a cure for a sub-set of one of the most common genetic blood diseases in the world, Beta-thalassemia.
  • Develop a novel drug which is being touted as a major step forward in the battle against obesity.
  • Create a more realistic model of primary liver cancer.
  • Determine how to develop safer blood-clotting drugs.

Hear from our scientists themselves about how your support has helped improve human health!

Check out our media centre for further information on these breakthroughs and discoveries.

Breakthrough in preventing the spread of melanoma

Researchers at the Centenary Institute in Sydney have led a study which has uncovered a brand-new target for melanoma metastasis; providing an improved understanding of how the cancer spreads and opening the door for more effective treatments.

Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. More than 14,000 new cases of melanoma are estimated to have occurred in 2018.[1] Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians (aged 15-39), and it kills more young Australians than any other single cancer.

The primary cause of death in melanoma patients is metastasis – the process by which cancer spreads to other areas of the body. While there have been recent advances in targeted and immune-based treatments, advanced stage melanoma remains a clinical challenge with a particularly poor prognosis.

Scientists from the Centenary Institute, in collaboration with 11 other Australian research institutions, have identified a specific protein (called RAB27A) as a key driver of melanoma metastasis. This occurs via the secretion of pro-invasive exosomes; tiny bubble-like structures which are expelled from cells.

During the study, the researchers discovered that silencing the expression of RAB27A reduced a certain population of exosomes delivering pro-invasion messages, which led to reduced metastasis.

Lead author and PhD researcher in Centenary’s Immune Imaging Program, Dajiang Guo, says the discovery provides a new way through which researchers can better target and treat melanoma.

“From our findings, we propose RAB27A is a novel prognostic factor, which means it could provide clinicians with a new way to determine a melanoma patient’s future health outcome,” says Mr. Guo.

“We also believe it could provide a brand new therapeutic target for the prevention of metastasis, which would improve the efficacy of future treatments. This is significant because metastasis is the main cause of death in melanoma patients.”

 

View the full media release as a PDF.

Read the paper published in the International Journal of Cancer.

[1] The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Compedium: information and trends by cancer type.

A new way to target high rates of obesity

LISTEN: Associate Professor Anthony Don speaks to ABC RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly.

A novel drug is being touted as a major step forward in the battle against Australia’s escalating rates of obesity and associated metabolic diseases. As it stands, 2 in 3 adults in Australia are classified as being overweight or obese. A long-term study between researchers at the Centenary Institute and UNSW Sydney has led to the creation of a drug which targets an enzyme linked to insulin resistance – a key contributor of metabolic diseases, such as Type II diabetes.

The study has been published in the highly-regarded scientific journal Nature Communications. Surprisingly, although the drug was very effective at reducing the lipids of interest in skeletal muscle, it did not prevent mice (which had been fed a high-fat diet to induce metabolic disease) from developing insulin resistance. Instead, it prevented the mice from depositing and storing fat by increasing their ability to burn fat in skeletal muscle.

“From here, I would like to develop drugs which target both the Ceramide Synthase 1 and 6 enzymes together, and see whether it produces a much stronger anti-obesity and insulin sensitising response. Although these drugs need more work before they are suitable for use in the clinic, our work so far has been a very important step in that direction,” says Centenary Institute’s Associate Professor Anthony Don.

Centenary PhD student Ameline Lim must also be recognised for her role in conducting a significant amount of the laboratory work and data analysis throughout the project, which formed the basis for her PhD thesis.

Read the full media release.

(Pictured: Centenary’s Associate Professor Anthony Don)

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