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2022 Funded Projects

JEREMY CROOK – Director, BioMedical Innovation Hub

“Seed grants are vital for supporting new and strategic research to demonstrate initial proof of potentially transformative ideas and concepts.”
 

Research project: 3D Bio Printing with Glioblastoma Ink – Engineering patient specific brain tumours for high throughput drug screening and indiviualised therapy.
 

Can you explain what your study is about and what you hope to achieve?

The average survival rate for glioblastoma patients is 14 months, and this has not changed for more than 30 years. This study seeks to be that change. It aims to use 3D Bio Printing to innovate and deliver a better treatment model for glioblastoma. This model could ultimately be applicable to all cancer streams, generating a new individualised treatment discovery model for all cancer patients.

 

The study will mix patients’ glioblastoma tumour cells with a specialised gel that was engineered to mimic the structure of human brain tissue. Using this mixture as ‘printer ink’, the researchers will print hundreds of mini brain tumours for each patient, then allow them to grow so that the clinicians can use these exact replica tumours to test different treatment options for the patient. The results from the drug screening will indicate the most effective therapy for the patient without exposing them to multiple rounds of treatment. This could ultimately reduce the time, efficacy and side effects of the treatment offered, and ultimately higher survival rates.
 
Significantly, discoveries from this research will be fast-tracked to clinical trials and personalised glioblastoma care leading to tangible survival benefits and improved quality-of-life for patients.

How important is Seed Funding for research?
Seed grants are vital for supporting new and strategic research to demonstrate initial proof of potentially transformative ideas and concepts. The SurFebruary seed funding will enable us to progress our proposed research so that we are well positioned to secure further external funding for the next phase of clinical translation.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?
Yes
 

Do you have a favourite beach?
Yes. Coledale Beach.
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?
On behalf of my fellow team members, I sincerely thank SurFebruary and its supporters for helping us to help people who are affected by glioblastoma, as well as for supporting other inspiring and innovative research in the cancer space.
 

HAI XIN – Head and Neck Postdoctoral Research Fellow

“Seed Funding provides crucial financial support to fund and realise our idea which aims to create benefits and help for patients with cancer.”
 

Research project: Development of an Ex-vivo Perfusion Bio Reactor to Maintain Periosteum for Bone Reconstruction
 

Can you explain what your study is about and what you hope to achieve?
Some cancer treatment requires invasive surgeries, and the patients must undergo large bone loss. This brings about devastating effects to their lives. One identified challenge with any bone reconstruction is growing new bone. Other alternative bone replacement substances rarely lead to regaining full form and function. This is because the periosteum is unable to be sustained/regenerated on these materials.
 
Periosteum is the membrane of blood vessels and nerves that wraps around most of your bones. It’s what delivers bones their blood supply, gives them their sense of feeling and promotes new growth.
 
The aim of this project is to maintain the periosteum of removed bone tissue, then place that maintained periosteum onto bone replacement scaffolding in the patient so that natural, new bone growth can occur throughout the scaffolding. This combination would lead to a reconstruction of both the form and function of bones damaged during treatment.
 
It is hoped that this research could be applied in all bone loss cases in the future, allowing patients to regrow their own, fully functioning bone tissue rather than relying on other bone reconstruction options which can hinder the areas functioning.
 

How important is Seed Funding for research?
Seed Funding plays essential roles in our research projects. It provides crucial financial support to fund and realise our idea which aims to create benefits and help for patients with cancer.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?
Not yet but will give it a go.
 

Do you have a favourite beach?
North Curl Curl Beach.
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?
Thank you very much for your donation and trust. We will work harder to accelerate the translation from scientific research to true clinical practice that can benefit cancer patients.
 

SCOTT LESLIE – Urological Surgeon

“Seed funding for research is the crucial catalyst that provides the tools for researchers to innovate and develop new techniques and treatments.”
 

Research project: Randomised study assessing urinary continence following Prostate Cancer treatment using RoboSling
 

Can you explain what your study is about and what you hope to achieve?
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer found in Australian men and in 2011 was the cause of 13% of all cancer deaths in men.
 
For men with prostate cancer contained within their prostate, surgery to remove the entire prostate (called Radical Prostatectomy) has been shown to have excellent cancer control results in the long term. Therefore Radical Prostatectomy is a common treatment option for prostate cancer. However, this surgery can be associated with troublesome incontinence of urine which may negatively impact the quality of life of men after surgery.
 
We have developed a new continence technique which has not been used anywhere else in the world, with the goal to improve the quality of life for men undergoing curative treatment for prostate cancer. This study compares the incontinence experienced and quality of life of men after the standard operation compared with the new surgical continence sling technique (RoboSling). The main benefit of this study will be to evaluate whether RoboSling will improve early and late urinary incontinence in men after surgery and will help assess whether this new technique should be considered for all men undergoing radical prostatectomy surgery.
 

How important is Seed Funding for research?
Seed funding for research is the crucial catalyst that provides the tools for researchers to innovate and develop new techniques and treatments. Seed funding lets us do the research needed to improve the healthcare and the quality of life of patients with cancer.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?
Successfully, only once.
 

Do you have a favourite beach?
Waikiki beach, Hawaii
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters for helping us innovate and make the change we want to see in our patients’ lives.
 

KAI CHENG – Surgical Innovation Research Manager, Head and Neck

“Seed funding supports the preliminary work and provides an avenue to conduct exploratory research that leads to new research initiatives.”
 

Research project: A study into using state of the art Virtual Reality to improve Virtual Surgery Planning
 

Can you explain what your study is about and what you hope to achieve?
Virtual Surgical Planning is commonly carried out by a digital designer who interprets and follows the surgeon’s verbal instructions on a 2D screen. Our research team aims to develop and integrate a Virtual Reality (VR) protocol into our in-house Virtual Surgical Planning workflow, and overcome the limitations of conventional Virtual Surgical Planning. These limitations include the inability of the surgeon to manipulate the planning data directly, multiple iterations leading to long planning times, and the significant learning curve that can delay the routine use of Virtual Surgical Planning.
 
In this study, the surgeon uses State of the Art Virtual Reality to gain access to and undertake Virtual Surgical Planning in an immersive 3D manner. This study hopes to prove the benefit of real-time eye-hand synchronisation, and avoiding miscommunication and misinterpretation between the surgeon and the digital designer.
 
If successful, this could reduce surgical planning times and also lead to better planning which means faster, more effective surgeries for patients, aiding in their outcome, recovery and quality of life.
 

How important is Seed Funding for research?
Seed funding supports the preliminary work and provides an avenue to conduct exploratory research that leads to new research initiatives. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first of its kind that attempts to use State of Art Virtual Reality to streamline the Virtual Surgical Planning for jaw reconstruction. Additionally, knowledge and expertise gained from the research project can be applied to other disciplines, multiplying the benefits.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?
No.
 

Do you have a favourite beach?
Dee Why
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?
I would like to thank the SurFebruary team and their supporters for this amazing opportunity.
 

2021 Funded Projects

Victoria Choi, Senior Acupuncturist

“Seed Funding for research allows creative and innovated ideas to grow into ideas that can one day help people.”

 
A pilot study: randomised controlled trial of electroacupuncture for taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy in breast cancer patients during treatment
  
Can you explain in layman’s terms what your study is about?

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a one of the most common side effects experienced by patients during chemotherapy treatment. Neurotoxic chemotherapeutic agents like paclitaxel can cause numbness and tingling in hands and feet, which can be uncomfortable and affect simple day to day activities like buttoning a shirt, writing and driving. Currently, management of CIPN predominantly consists of reducing dosage and/or stopping chemotherapy, which can impact not only survival rates but cause added distress for patients. However, electroacupuncture has been shown to be a safe treatment option that may have potential benefits for treating CIPN. Our clinical trial will be investigating the effectiveness of electroacupuncture in treating CIPN during chemotherapy.
  
How important is Seed Funding for research?

Seed funding is incredibly important in research because it helps to foster and grow novel ideas. It allows creative and innovated ideas to grow into ideas that can one day help people.
  

Do you or have you ever surfed?
Never, but I’d love to learn
 

Do you have a favourite beach?
Coogee beach
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?
Thank you so much for your support and belief in our work!

DR HELEN KE, PHD FELLOW

“We rely on seed funding to get our ideas and projects off the ground so we can hopefully make a difference in the lives of our patients.”

 

The investigation of methylation patterns in circulating tumour DNA as a predictive biomarker for immunotherapy in malignant mesothelioma

 

Can you explain in layman’s terms what your study is about – the line I have below will not be understood by most people.

Our project is looking at predicting how well immunotherapy will work in patients with mesothelioma (a cancer caused by asbestos) based on patterns in their tumour’s DNA.

 

How important is Seed Funding for research?

Seed funding from SurFebruary is crucial for research projects like ours with uncommon cancers and for researchers just starting out (like myself). We rely on seed funding to get our ideas and projects off the ground so we can hopefully make a difference in the lives of our patients
 

The study is between Concord Hospital and Lifehouse – how important / helpful is collaboration in terms of research?

This study is a collaborative project between the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI), Concord Hospital and Lifehouse. Collaboration is absolutely essential to research. Particularly for asbestos-related cancers, this extends to government and industry as well. We all have a common hope and purpose to see an end to mesothelioma and also improve the lives of those who are diagnosed with this cancer.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?

I would like to learn how to surf! Participating in Surfebruary may be a good opportunity to finally give it a go
 

Do you have a favourite beach?

Manly- my favourite birthday tradition is salt and vinegar chips with a lemon Calippo after a swim at Manly

EMMA CHARTERS, SPEECH PATHOLOGIST

“Seed funding is crucial for turning bright ideas into reality.”
 

Restorabite: Hospital manufactured, 3D printed device for trismus therapy
 

Can you explain in layman’s terms what your study is about?

Many people have difficulty opening their mouths after being treated for head and neck cancer. When you can’t open your mouth, you have big problems eating, talking, getting dental care and check-ups with your doctor. Our team have designed a 3D printed device called the Restorabite, which helps to stretch open the mouth again in a controlled and safe way. We are evaluating whether Restorabite can help people open their mouths wider, and whether this improves someone’s eating, drinking, pain and quality of life.
 

How important is Seed Funding for research?

Seed funding is crucial for turning bright ideas into reality. It provides the time and resources that are needed to make positive changes in health care, and allows clinicians to creatively think of solutions to problems that negatively effects their patients.
 

How important / helpful is collaboration in terms of research?

Just like in our everyday work, collaboration in research projects is essential. Our Restorabite project is an excellent example of this, bringing together the expertise of surgeons, engineers, research assistants and coordinators, oncologists, dentists, specialist nurses, trial specialists and speech pathologists. Within a big team like that, there is teaching, training and mentoring which is packaged along with the actual project, making collaboration even more important for developing the skills of researchers.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?

I learnt to surf (sort of) on my honeymoon! I fell down more than I stood up… but I would LOVE to give it another go!
 

Do you have a favourite beach?

I have very fond memories of Mollymook beach down the south coast where we went growing up as kids. Cronulla is our local though, and we are there as often as my freckly skin allows!
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?

I am so grateful and excited. I am grateful for those who donated to SurFebruary, putting your trust into new ideas can be daunting and risky. Thankyou for supporting our ideas and enabling our team to work together on a project which really will change the lives of people recovering from head and neck cancer treatment. I am excited because each person who surfed, swam, ran, walked or breathed in the salty air, raised awareness for cancer research and the hope that new ideas can bring.

DR SUSANNAH GRAHAM

“Seed funding is essential for research! It allows us to fund the inspiring and innovative research that aims to benefit our patients.”
 

Better health outcomes for women with Breast Cancer
 

Can you explain in layman’s terms what your study is about?

Our study is looking at rolling out an early supportive care program for women receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (or chemotherapy before surgery) for breast cancer. The program provides interventions that may improve women’s wellbeing and cancer treatment experience. The aim of the study is to investigate the feasibility of the program and identify barriers in implementing it. We ultimately hope to show that being involved in this program results in reduced symptom burden and improved quality of life, as well as better surgical outcomes, with fewer complications and improved patient satisfaction.
 

How important is Seed Funding for research?

Seed funding is essential for research! It allows us to fund the inspiring and innovative research that aims to benefit our patients.
 

How important / helpful is collaboration in terms of research?

Research is impossible without collaboration! This study relies on collaboration between multiple departments in the hospital including Surgery, Medical Oncology and Supportive Care, in addition to allied health staff and researchers for its’ implementation and evaluation. It would be impossible to perform without everyone working together.
 

Do you or have you ever surfed?

I have! I lived in Coolangatta on the beach during my surgical training and learnt to surf. I had a big red “foamie” and I loved getting out in the surf.
 

Do you have a favourite beach?

My favourite beach in Sydney at the moment is Balmoral. I have two small children, so taking them somewhere without big surf is essential at the moment. I can’t wait until they become great swimmers and we can start Nippers!
 

Do you have a message to the supporters of SurFebruary?

Thank you so much!! Your support inspires us and allows us to do the research needed to get better outcomes for our patients!

DR YI-CHING LEE, DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A CANCER PAIN INTERVENTION REGISTRY

This will help evaluate the usefulness of pain-relieving procedures for cancer patients. Pain is very common and often not well managed in people with cancer. It can negatively impact the physical and psychological wellbeing and quality of life of the individual patient, and can also be a source of distress to their family. This study will be initiated at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, with an aim to extend to a state-wide, and later an Australia and New Zealand-wide project.