Research Grants are awarded at the Inner Wheel Australia National Conference, held annually in October
Grant Recipients were
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Sydney Children's Hospital
Dr Sam Greenall, Monash University
Dr Courtney McDonald, Monash University
Details of the projects for which the grants were awarded will be added soon
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Blood & Marrow Transplant Facility, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital. School of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of New South Wales: $65,000
Project title: Development of novel immunotherapies from cord blood
Relevance to Inner Wheel Australia Foundation Funding Aims: We propose the use of CB to produce CART cells for immunotherapy of cancer. This may expand the use of CB beyond traditional stem cell transplant. A bank of CART cells can be generated from common HLA-expressing CB donors under optimal conditions in advance for a broad cohort of patients. CB derived CART cells can be used to develop CART cell therapies as “off-the-shelf” gene therapy products which could also be used to treat patients with leukaemia and solid tumours.
Dr Ashalyn Watt, Hudson Institute of Medical Research (HIMR): $65,000
Project title: Umbilical cord blood cell miRNA in promoting survival, maturation and myelination in oligodendrocytes in perinatal white matter brain injury
Relevance to Inner Wheel Australia Foundation Funding Aims: White matter injury is commonly observed in cerebral palsy (CP): the most common cause of childhood disability of which there is no cure. Parents of children with CP are looking towards stem cells as a therapy and Australian parents are now going overseas for stem cell therapy, despite our poor understanding if the treatment will work. We have previously shown that early intervention with UCB therapy can not only prevent but also repair the neonatal brain following injury. The specific mechanisms for this are not fully elucidated. We therefore aim to assess how UCB cells and their derivatives can both protect against white matter damage and repair damaged cells to inform future UCB therapies for CP.
Associate Professor Michael Doran, Queensland University of Technology at the Translational Research Institute: $65,000
Project title: Using placenta-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (pMSC) to repair non-union bone fractures
Relevance to Inner Wheel Australia Foundation Funding Aims: Typically, both placenta and umbilical cord are discarded following childbirth. The placenta is rich in mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC). While only 512 cord blood HSC transplants were performed in Australia and New Zealand between 2005 and 2013, an Australian breaks a bone every ~3.4 minutes. This project offers Inner Wheel Australia an innovative opportunity to use cord and placental tissue in a manner that could improve the lives of thousands of Australians through enhanced bone repair.
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick NSW: $65,000. Cord Blood and Marrow Transplant
Subject: Cord Blood Stem Cell-generated T cells with potent anti-tumor and lack of allogeneic activity.
We propose the use of CB to produce CART cells for immunotherapy of cancer. This may expand the use of CB beyond traditional stem cell transplant. A bank of CART cells generated from common HLA-expressing CB donors can be generated under optimal conditioned and sufficient in numbers in advance for a broad cohort of patients.
Donor CART cells can be administered to the patients who develop leukaemia following stem cell transplantation or to prevent leukaemia relapse following stem cell transplant.
Dr Sylvie Shen, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick NSW: $65,000
Subject: Epigenetic and Immune Checkpoints Modulation to enhance anti-tumor activity of Cord Blood Stem Cell Derived Antigen Specific Natural Killer Cells.
Utilising UCB CD34+ cells for expansion of NK cells for adoptive immunotherapy and thus expanding UCB beyond the traditional stem/progenitor cell sources for transplantation, this project will focus on identify approaches to improve efficacy of NK-cell therapy in combination with other immune-modulatory agents, making it a more efficacious clinical application. It will also enable the use of cancer-specific NK’s to improve post-transplant immune reconstitution, reducing risk of opportunistic infections and disease relapse, improve the safety outcome for transplant patients.
Dr Salvatore Pepe, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne: $65,000
Subject: Placental Cord Blood adjunct therapy during Norwood cardiopulmonary bypass surgery in babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
This application utilises the same best clinical practice advanced technology and skills currently employed by cord blood banks. If this study can justify the safety and feasibility of cord blood cells as an adjunct treatment during paediatric heart surgery, larger clinical studies can test whether there are measurable improvements to post-operative recovery, fewer life-threatening complications and heart growth and function. Successful outcomes will justify the use of cord blood stem cells during paediatric heart surgery for severe congenital heart malformations.
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick NSW: $65,000. Haematopoietic Stem Cells from Umbilical Blood to Generate Cancer Specific Immune Effectors Cells.
Cord blood (CB) is used as a source of stem cells for bone marrow transplantation. We propose the use of CB as a long-lasting source of tumour-targeted multilineage immune cells for immunotherapy of cancer. This may expand the use of CB beyond traditional stem cell transplant. Ex vivo generated 'designer' tumour-specific CB-derived stem cells may ultimately replace donor leukocyte infusion. Building on our future results, we will be able to initiate a clinical trial treating patients with CART-modified stem cells.
The following grant was presented in memory of Kathleen Gilbert who, although not an Inner Wheel member herself, was very involved in Inner Wheel through her sister, Past Inner Wheel Australia President Phyl Hines: Dr Sylvie Shen, Kids Cancer Centre at the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick NSW: $65,000. Cord Blood Stem Cells for Ex Vivo Expansion of Antigen Specific Natural Killer Cells for Multi-Modality Cancer Immunotherapy.
This project focuses on utilising UCB CD34+ cells as a source of expansion of NK cells for adoptive immunotherapy, expanding the use of UCB beyond the traditional stem/progenitor cells sources for transplantation. Derive large numbers of functional NK cells from relative small homogenous starting population. It will enable the use of cancer specific NK cells to improve post-transplant immune reconstitution, reducing the risk of opportunistic infections and disease relapse, thus improving the safety and the outcome for transplant patients.
Dr Michael Doran, Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation, University of Queensland: $65,000. High Throughput Humanised Bone Marrow Niche Array.
The project will contribute to a better understanding and recapitulation of the microenvironment in the human bone marrow. Recapitulating this human microenvironment will provide a powerful tool for studying cord blood homing and engraftment processes, which are superior to current models/tools. We hope (and anticipate) that such understanding will lead to the development of transplant processes and approaches, which result in improvements in safety and efficacy of umbilical cord blood transplantation.
Dr Courtney McDonald, The Richie Centre, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Victoria: $65,000. Umbilical Cord Blood Therapy for Cerebral Palsy: What are the Long Term Benefits?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of childhood disability and presently there is no cure. Parents of children with CP are increasingly looking to stem cells as a therapeutic option for their children and, of concern to us, Australian parents are taking their children overseas for experimental and unproven stem cell therapies. Our past studies have increased knowledge on how UCB can repair the brain in the short term. It is now imperative that we investigate the long term functional and behavioural impacts of UCB therapy.
Dr Ngaire Elwood, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne: $65,000. Director of the Bone Marrow Donor Institute (BMDI) Cord Blood Bank and Group Leader of the Cord Blood Stem Cell Research Laboratory at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI).
The grant will be used for a development project in the field of stem cell biology relevant to Cord Blood and is to undertake the crucial groundwork required to establish Australia’s first pluripotent stem cell bank from cord blood for novel cellular therapies. The establishment of such a bank defines a new therapeutic use for cord blood already stored in the public BMDI Cord Blood Bank (CBB) without depleting the CBB of its inventory Cord Blood units available for Bone Marrow transplantation.
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Cord & Marrow Transplant Laboratory, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick NSW: $65,000. Dr Dolnikov’s research is focused on the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer. Dr Dolnikov is a Principal Hospital Scientist and Group Leader at the Cord and Marrow Transplant Laboratory at Sydney Children’s Hospital and Senior Lecturer (con-joint) at the Department of Medicine UNSW. She also leads the Leukaemia Gene Therapy group at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia.
Dr Margie Castillo – Melendez, The Ritchie Centre, The Hudson Institute, Victoria: $65,000. Dr Castillo – Melendez is a neuroscientist and a senior member of the foetal and neonatal Research Group at the Ritchie Centre.
Her current area of interest is the field on neurovascular research and the role of the cerebrovascular in the genesis of fetal brain injury and investigating therapeutic strategies that target the neurovascular unit, in particular, using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.
Dr Margie Castillo-Melendez, The Ritchie Centre, MIMR – PHI Institute of Medical Research, Victoria: $65,000. Her current area of interest is the field on neurovascular research and the role of the cerebrovascular in the genesis of foetal brain injury and investigating therapeutic strategies that target the neurovascular unit, in particular, using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.
Dr Michael Doran, Stem Cell Therapies Laboratory – Group Leader Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation (HBI) Queensland University of Technology: $65,000. The overall aim of this project is to enhance the homing and engraftment potential of umbilical cord blood – derived HSC using the micromarrow as an expansion platform and/or as a delivery vehicle for the direct transplantation of HSC into bone marrow.
HSC – haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are recovered from donated umbilical cord blood.
Donation is completely voluntary, collection is only made after the baby is safely delivered, and this is organised independently by the Mater Cord Blood Bank.
There is never any risk to either baby or mother and there is no bias towards the sex of the babies.
HSC – Umbilical Cord Blood is now a commonly utilised source of haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) for transplant and research purposes. It represents a unique source of HSC which can be isolated with absolutely no risk/harm to the donor. Generally the umbilical cord and placenta are considered by-products of the birthing process and are disposed of as waste.
Dr Michael Doran, Australian lnstitute & Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology: $65 000 third year. “Micro-marrow” work - developing a more effective delivery system - a delivery system that will allow cord blood stem cells to be delivered and retained within the patient's bone marrow. If this system does work, an approximate 15-fold improvement in engraftment could be expected. This would be a significant improvement that would make the transplant process much safer.
Dr Suzie Miller, The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Victoria: $65 000. This research will directly address the question of whether cord blood stem cells reduce perinatal brain injury, caused by a severe asphyxic event at birth, and the mechanisms of protection. This project will utilise our established term lamb model of birth asphyxia, with state-of-the-art neonatal care and magnetic resonance imaging to track the cells.
Associate Professor Simon Barry, Child Health Research lnstitute, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, SA: $65 000 for one year. Cord Blood Stem cell derived regulatory T cells: Ex vivo expansion and characterisation for cell therapy to cure auto immune disease.
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Cord & Marrow Transplant Laboratory, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick NSW: $65 000 second year. lmproving the outcome of cord blood transplant by preventing Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). GVHD remains the major barrier to
patient survival following umbilical cord transplantation.
Dr Michaet Doran, Australian lnstitute & Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology: $65 000 second year. Temporary lmmune Support for Cord Blood Transplant Recipients. The safety of cord blood transplant could be improved through the
provision of a large supportive expanded cord blood-derived cell population.
Professor Graham Jenkin, Monash Medical Research lnstitute, Melbourne, Vic: $65 000. Cord blood stem cells to reduce brain injury in the new born. We hypothesise that stem cells derived from cord blood are able to reach damaged areas of the newborn brain and reduce brain injury following birth asphyxia.
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Cord & Marrow Transplant Laboratory, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, NSW: $65 000 per annum for two years. Improving the outcome of cord blood transplant by preventing Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). GVHD remains the major barrier to patient survival following umbilical cord transplantation.
Dr Michael Doran, Australian Institute & Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology: $65 000 per annum for two year. Temporary Immune Support for Cord Blood Transplant Recipients. The safety of cord blood transplant could be improved through the provision of a large supportive expanded cord blood-derived cell population.
Associate Professor Simon Barry, Child Health Research Institute, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide, SA: $65,000 for one year. Cord Blood Stem cell derived regulatory T cells: Ex vivo expansion and characterisation for cell therapy to cure auto immune disease.
Dr Alla Dolnikov, Sydney Cord and Marrow Transplant Facility, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, NSW: $65 000. Widespread use of Umbilical Cord Blood is limited by reduced numbers of stem cells contained within the UCB (Umbilical Cord Blood) compared with BM (Bone Marrow). The focus of the research is to develop a successful strategy in the laboratory to expand UCB stem cells prior to transplantation and improve their engraftment. This will allow full utilisation of UCB resource for all patients in need of life saving transplant, particularly for patients in need of urgent transplants and ethnic minority groups where volunteer bone marrow are scarce.
Dr Michael Doran, Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Mater Medical Research Institute, Brisbane: $65 000. It is believed that the rate of cord blood HSC (haematopoietic stem cell) transplant engraftment can be enhanced through the ex vivo expansion of the stem cell population prior to transplant. However, to date expansion processes have actually resulted in the depletion of engrafting cells, thus the failure to enhance transplant outcomes. Dr Doran's aim is a novel strategy to rescue the transplant potential of cultured cord blood derived HSCs, thus enabling enhanced clinical outcomes.
Associate Professor Simon Barry et al - Women's and Children's Research Institute, Women and Children's Hospital, Adelaide: $63 016. Aims to develop clinical application of rare stem cells found in cord blood, to find if cord blood stem cells can be expanded and differentiated into Regulatory T cells ex vivo, to be in sufficient numbers for clinical intervention in transportation and autoimmune disease.
Dr Ngaire Elwood - Director, BMDI Cord Blood Bank, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne: $44 280. Project aims to screen all cord blood (CB) collected and banked at the BMDI Cord Blood Bank over a one-year period (up to 800 CB units) for the presence of common chromosomal abnormalities to determine the frequency of these rearrangements in our population of banked CB.
Professor Kerry Atkinson et al - Mater Medical Research Institute and Mater Adults Hospital, Brisbane: $65 000. Aims to expand human cord blood haematopoietic stem cells so the number of HSC infused in cord blood transplants would markedly accelerate the rate of stem cell engraftment.
Dr Faten Zaibak and Prof Robert Williamson, Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic: $59 089. To support research seeking to extend the use of cord blood to treat genetic diseases, specifically investigating if cord blood-derived stem cells can be used to treat cystic fibrosis.
Associate Professor Simon Barry - Child Health Research Institute, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, SA: $61 094. To develop the clinical application of cord blood stem cells which, when cultured to increase their numbers and change them to specialised white blood cells, may be capable of preventing auto immune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, or facilitating transplants without chemical immunosuppression.
Prof Kerry Atkinson, Mater Adult Hospital, Brisbane, Qld: $65 000. Project Title - Treatment of Steroid-Refractory Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease occurring after Unrelated Cord Blood Transplantation by Infusion of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells.
Associate Professor Simon Barry - Child Health Research Institute Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, SA: $57 000. Project Title: Differentiation of Cord Blood Stem Cells into Regulatory T Cells for Cell Therapy.
Dr Ngaire Elwood - Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Vic: $65 000. Project Title - Strategies based on telomere biology to predict successful cord blood transplant outcome.
Professor Kerry Atkinson, Mater Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Qld: $65 000. Project Title - Co-transplantation of umbilical cord blood cells with human mesenchymal stem cells in order to accelerate platelet and neutrophil recovery post-transplant
Associate Professor Richard D'Andrea - Women and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, SA: $65 000. This research has two aims - the first which may allow cord blood to become a safe and reliable resource for adult stem cell transplantation when a suitable bone marrow donor cannot be found. The second involves manipulating cord blood stem cells to form a special population of immune regulatory cells (T-reg cells).
Dr Ngaire Elwood - Murdoch Children's Institute: $65 000. To further research into improving cord blood transplantation, and the correlation between DNA length and cell growth.
Dr Ngaire Elwood - Murdoch Children's Research Institute: $65 715. Further research on original grants. A result could be the ability to use cord blood for larger children and adults.
Dr Rosemary Sparrow - Australian Red Cross Blood Service: $65 030. Study to seek the thawing process of cord blood to improve the quality of recovered frozen cord blood.
Leigh Mison - Australian Cord Blood Bank, Sydney: $26 540. Determine a system for the detection of bacterial contamination of cord blood, even when there is a low bacterial count.
Jessica Sylianou - Australian Cord Blood Bank, Sydney: $16 644. Study to prove that a new agent is effective for use with cord blood cells and whether its use will increase the quality and viability of the final cord blood product.
Dr Ngaire Elwood - Murdoch Children's Research Institute, $39 556. Extension of original grant for further six months.
Jie Lieu - Australian Cord Blood Bank, Sydney: $14 743. The optimum safe duration of exposure to and concentration of DSMO to cord blood cells.
Dr Richard J D'Andrea & Dr Lewis - Child Health Research Foundation: $46 600. Seeding Grant (given in two parts of $23 300 each). Role of BMP in expanding cord blood-derived haemopoietic stem cells.
Dr Ngaire Elwood - Murdoch Children's Research Institute: $65 864 (given in two parts - June and December 2002). Establish a new technique for measuring DNA length in cord blood stem cells.
Dr Rosemary Sparrow - Australian Red Cross Blood Service: $64 733 (given in two parts - June and December 2002). A new method more sensitive for discriminating live cells from dead cells as well as looking at the influence of different collection and preparation options.
Leigh Mison - Australian Cord Blood Bank, Sydney: $13 733. Investigation into the optimum conditions for volume reduction of cord blood. Design for smaller collection bag.
April Goodear - Australian Cord Blood Bank, Sydney: $14 825: Investigation on Transport conditions on the survival of stem cells in unprocessed cord blood.