Welcome to the Otago School of Medical Sciences
OSMS Awards 2013
5 February 2014
The OSMS held its annual awards ceremony for 2013 in the Hunter Centre Atrium yesterday evening. A large crowd gathered to celebrate the achievements of OSMS staff and students. Read about this in the ODT.
The major prizewinners were:
OSMS Distinguished Researcher of the Year – Tony Merriman
OSMS Service to the School Award - Frank Griffin
OSMS Best Paper Award – Richard Macknight
OSMS Commercial Research Award – Parry Guilford
OSMS Emerging Researcher Award – Anita Dunbier
OSMS Distinguished Academic Teacher - Christine Jasoni
OSMS Distinguished PPF/Teaching Fellow – Judith Bateup
Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision – Ian McLennan
OSMS Distinguished Research Support Staff Award – Ross Marshall-Seeley
OSMS Sustained Research Staff Support Award – Ellena Whelan & Catherine McCaughan
OSMS Research Support Staff Award (Individual lab) – Amanda Wyatt
Testing a New Treatment Strategy for Pancreatic Cancer
13 January 2014
Finding a cure for cancer remains a formidable goal for the scientific community. A major challenge facing cancer researchers is to find a way to specifically target drugs to tumours, which would allow the administration of high enough drug doses to destroy the cancer without harming the patient. My own research focusses on solving this problem by tailoring drugs with properties that enable them to be delivered specifically to cancerous tissue. Our approach takes advantage of the fact that the tumour's own blood vessels are its Achilles heel. Due to the abnormal growth of the tumour, it contains blood vessels that are extremely leaky, a property that enables us to distinguish tumours from normal tissue. In my laboratory we encapsulate cancer drugs inside a miceller system using nanotechnology. Similar to targeted missile warheads, our system can reach inside tumours by passing through the leaky vessel walls, and then release the drug within the tumour, selectively killing the cancer while causing little harm to normal tissues.
In our recently OMRF funded grant, together with my colleague Dr Greg Giles, we are aiming to cure pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a fatal type of cancer, with the number of annually diagnosed cases almost equal to the annual death rate. The disease is even more lethal among Maori who demonstrate 1.5 to 2 folds higher incidence rate than non-Maori. Pancreatic cancer is especially difficult to treat because it has limited blood vessels, which are essential to deliver traditional anticancer drugs.
In this work we will test a new treatment strategy composing of two different miceller drugs. The first micelle will encapsulate a nitric oxide donor drug, to cause vasodilation in the tumor blood vessels. We hope to show that vasodilation will then enhance the delivery of the second micelle, encapsulating the chemotherapeutic agent. We expect this system to overcome the difficulty imposed by the limited blood supply to pancreatic cancers, allowing us to successfully build up high enough anticancer drug levels inside the tumor to cure the patient.
The OMRF funds will be used to synthesize the drugs and then prove our concept in animal models of pancreatic cancer in mice. Once our hypothesis is validated, our next goal is to collaborate with our colleagues in the Otago School of Medicine to move this system towards clinical trials to benefit pancreatic cancer patients.
The Jolly Good (Microbiology) Fellows
18 December 2013
The Department of Microbiology & Immunology is unique in that it currently has on staff 5 Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand (Professors Greg Cook, Frank Griffin, Andy Mercer, Gerald Tannock, Clive Ronson); 2 James Cook Fellows (Professors Greg Cook and Gerald Tannock), 1 Pickering Medallist (Professor Frank Griffin) and 1 Rutherford Fellow (Dr Peter Fineran). Congratulations on this impressive achievement. Pictured, from left to right, Andy Mercer, Peter Fineran, Gerald Tannock, Frank Griffin, Greg Cook, Clive Ronson.
OSMS Award Results in Endocrinology Paper
In 2011 Professor Alan Herbison (Department of Physiology) and Professor Chen Chen (University of Queensland) were awarded $20,200 to investigate the regulation of pubertal growth. This strategic award was intending to stimulate research collaborations between the OSMS and the School of Biomedical Sciences at Queensland, and it is very pleasing to note a recent publication in Endocrinlogy that has resulted from this work. The paper, Development of a Methodology for and Assessment of Pulsatile Luteinizing Hormone Secretion in Juvenile and Adult Male Mice is available here.