ASMR Recognition for APCRC-Q Researchers

Three APCRC-Q researchers recently received recognition for their research endeavours from the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR). Dr Jyotsna Batra and Ms Nathalie Bock were selected as finalists in the ASMR Queensland Awards, and Ms Phoebe Sarkar’s research was featured in the ASMR newsletter media release.

At the ASMR Queensland judging session, Ms Nathalie Bock presented her project entitled: “Growth-factor loaded electrosprayed microparticles for targeted bone tissue regeneration” in the Postgraduate Student Awards Category.

In her presentation, Nathalie explained how bone loss is currently treated clinically by growth factor (GF) therapies and how these treatments use high doses of GFs to stimulate bone regeneration, which may lead to adverse side effects for other surrounding tissues.

Her project describes a novel technique, electrospraying, capable of encapsulating bone-relevant GFs within biodegradable carriers, which simultaneously protects GFs from the environment and delivers lower doses, as the carriers degrade. This new system is gentle to the GFs, which remain active longer for more efficacious bone regeneration providing a safer and cheaper alternative for bone loss treatment.

In the Postdoctoral Researcher Award Category, Dr Jyotsna Batra delivered a presentation on her project: “Genome-wide association studies of miRSNPs identify novel prostate cancer risk loci” which examines miRNA - small non-coding RNA regulating gene expression by binding mostly to the ends of their target genes.

Dr Batra is a member of the PRACTICAL consortium international research team. She explained how genetic variation can affect the binding between miRNAs and mRNAs and described how this team undertook large comprehensive genetic association studies of such genetic variations with prostate cancer risk and identified 7 novel risk regions and successfully validated the functional role of two of the variations in the KLK3 and MDM4 genes. This approach has thus opened new avenues for future studies to explore these regions as potential targeted therapeutics and/or disease biomarkers for prostate cancer.

Ms Phoebe Sarkar’s research into the effects of diabetes drugs on prostate cancer featured in the ASMR Medical Research Week media release. There was particular interest in the findings that high insulin levels increase the migration and invasion of prostate tumours, and that these changes can be prevented using insulin inhibitors. Stating that the “results make a strong case for repositioning insulin-lowering diabetes drugs, such as metformin, for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer”.

“The ASMR is the foremost professional society representing Australian health and medical research. The Society has a long established role in public, political and scientific advocacy, and as such, we greatly value ASMR’s acknowledgement of our researchers’ contributions to the field of prostate cancer research,” said Prof Colleen Nelson, Executive Director of the APCRC-Q.