The benefit and risks of radiation in low dosesGroundbreaking research into the potential benefit of low-level radiation in providing a protective response against DNA damage has attracted US$1 million in funding from the US Department of Energy.
A research team lead by Professor Pam Sykes has developed a new test, which is thousands of times more sensitive than previous methods, to unlock vital clues on the effects of low-level radiation.
Their work has lead to a new understanding of how cells respond to low-level radiation damage and how cells protect themselves. It could lead to useful new approaches and agents capable of protecting against cancer.
Somatic and Germ line mutationsResearch into somatic and germ line mutations has been ongoing for many years and has followed two separate but interacting paths. First we are developing new methods for detecting and studying somatic mutations which can cause cancer or other diseases. Functional assays of key cancer related genes such as BRCA and ATM are being used to study previously unclassified variants in cancer.
These findings are then being applied, along with standard molecular and proteomic methods, in the study of mutations in human cells and their importance in the biology of ageing and disease, particularly cancer.
Leukaemia treatment optionsChronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common leukaemia in western countries and many people survive with the condition for decades without the need for treatment. In other people, the leukaemic cells multiply in an uncontrolled way and survival is reduced to a months rather than years.
Despite increased understanding of the biology of CLL over the past decade, accurate prediction of a patient’s response to therapy remains a challenge. Our researchers are investigating prognostic markers that might also identify reasons for therapy resistance and relapse. The work should support improved clinical assessments and help clinicians with treatment decisions.
Mutation mysteryMyeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are a group of leukaemia-related blood disorders in which the body makes too many cells. There are four main MPNs and the discovery of the Philadelphia chromosome and BCR Abelson translocation has dramatically improved the outcome for people with one of them, chronic myeloid leukaemia.
Considerable progress in understanding the other three MPNs has been made with the discovery of the Jak2 V617F mutation. However, not every patient has the mutation and those that do can have markedly different clinical problems. The Flinders research team is exploring the underlying reasons for the various clinical manifestations of this group of diseases and the familial implications of these diseases.