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Category Archives: Health Sciences

UQ research may lead to drug to fight leukaemia

UQ research may lead to drug to fight leukaemia

7 May 2014

A molecular ‘target’ that could lead to a drug to fight leukaemia is in the sights of a team of University of Queensland researchers.

Professor Tom Gonda, from UQ’s School of Pharmacy, said the team had found that the ‘docking’ of one protein, the Myb protein, with another protein, the p300 protein, was essential for the development of acute myeloid leukaemia, one of the deadliest types of leukaemia.

“Our data identifies the critical role of this Myb-p300 interaction and shows that the disruption of this interaction could lead to a potential therapeutic strategy,” he said.

“This finding could lead to our team developing a drug to block this interaction and stop the growth of not only acute myeloid leukaemia cells but probably the cells of other types of leukaemia as well.”

He said the Myb protein was produced by the MYB oncogene, a gene that had the potential to cause cancer and was required for the continued growth of leukaemia cells.

 “However, it’s important to note that MYB is also essential for normal blood cell formation so we need an approach for targeting it that won’t completely disrupt normal blood cell production.

“Our research shows that normal blood cells can continue to form even when the Myb-p300 interaction is unable to occur, suggesting that a drug that blocks the interaction could be safe for use in patients.

“This work is at a very early stage and, although a high-risk project, it has the potential to produce large benefits in the fight against leukaemia and, possibly, other cancers.

Drug development and subsequent clinical trials are long processes but we are hopeful that this research has a promising future.”

Much of the research was done by Dr Diwakar Pattabiraman while he was a PhD student in Professor Gonda’s laboratory.

Professor Gonda said that as Myb was not a conventional target for drugs, the team would also examine other ways to target MYB, such as targeting the genes and proteins that work ‘downstream’ of MYB.

“If we can block the downstream molecules that are controlled by MYB, we may end up with the same result,” he said.

The research was published in the prestigious haematology journal Blood.

MEDIA: Helen Burdon, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, 07 3365 7436,, 0412 744 437 or Professor Tom Gonda, 07 3346-1720, 0438 670 400,

Kidney disease gene controls cancer highway

Kidney disease gene controls cancer highway

University of Queensland researchers have discovered that a gene that causes kidney disease also controls growth of the lymphatic system, a key route through which cancer spreads. Pkd1 is the most frequently mutated gene in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, which causes cysts to develop on kidneys and can lead to renal failure. Researchers, ledContinue Reading

Ugly in the brain of the beholder

When people think of mental illness related to body image, the first thing that usually comes to mind is anorexia or associated eating disorders. But, the lesser known body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is five times more prevalent than anorexia and also causes higher levels of psychological impairment. In the world’s largest neuroimaging research in disorderContinue Reading

Smokers tired of shock-horror quit tactics can try positive influence

Rotting lungs, cancerous eyes, fat-lined arteries and ageing skin are the usual confronting images used to entice smokers to quit around this time of year, but a new study will test if positive visualisations can have the same effect. QUT researcher Brittany Keen said many of the three million Aussie smokers have made a NewContinue Reading

Taking the heat out of jellyfish stings

Everyone has their own theory about how to best relieve the pain of a jellyfish sting, however a team of University of Sydney researchers has examined a host of often-used methods to determine which is the most effective. Their research, published in the Cochrane Library this week, has revealed that the best way to relieve the pain of aContinue Reading

UQ researchers grow kidney from stem cells

University of Queensland researchers have made a major leap forward in treating renal disease, today announcing they have grown a kidney using stem cells. The breakthrough paves the way for improved treatments for patients with kidney disease and bodes well for the future of the wider field of bioengineering organs. Professor Melissa Little from UQ’sContinue Reading

New breast cancer research to improve diagnosis and treatment

University of Queensland Researchers and Pathology Queensland have found women under 50 with breast cancer are more likely to develop secondary cancer in the liver or gynaecological organs. They also found patients with bone metastases, when the cancer spreads from one part of the body to another, had an increased chance of developing brain metastases.Continue Reading

Deadly weather for pregnant women & at-risk groups

Brisbane ambos can expect more call-outs to people with cardiovascular, respiratory and other chronic conditions in sweltering temperatures, says QUT public health researcher Professor Shilu Tong from QUT’s IHBI. “Every degree in temperature above 22 degrees brings a 1.2 percent rise in ambulance call-outs for people with underlying conditions.” Professor Tong said. Pregnant women areContinue Reading

Preventing suicide: a critical next step

Doctors may in the future be able to take a blood test to determine if a patient is suicidal, hopefully decreasing the number of people taking their own lives. In Australia, suicide is the number one cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 44 (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Research published in Neuropsychopharmacology hasContinue Reading

Chemical link in WA mums to be

Chemical link in WA mums to be

Prenatal exposure to a chemical commonly found in plastic food and beverage containers and tin cans requires further investigation after an Edith Cowan University (ECU)  study found Bisphenol A exposure in pregnant women. The study, published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, found Bisphenol A – more commonly known as BPA –Continue Reading

Water-saving’s unintended consequences

Water-saving’s unintended consequences

Water conservation has unintended consequences for residents and water managers, according to new research. Victoria University PhD student Nyoman Marleni found reducing and replacing potable water lead to smellier sewers and more corrosion in sewer pipes. Everybody talks about the benefits of water saving measures but it’s important to remember the same amount of wasteContinue Reading

Valuable research gathered by Notre Dame PhD graduate on delivering exercise incentives to employees

Valuable research gathered by Notre Dame PhD graduate on delivering exercise incentives to employees

Only half of the workers in a recent survey are meeting current Australian standards for daily physical activity according to research by PhD graduate, Dr Troy Fuller, from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus. With many people working longer hours, both in the office and at home, Dr Fuller’s research highlighted that employeeContinue Reading

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