Chris Adams Research Grant awarded to Dr Melinda Tea

Thursday 28 November 2019
Chris Adams Research Grant awarded to Dr Melinda Tea image

Dr Melinda Tea has been awarded the 2019 Chris Adams UniSA Research Grant to undertake overseas training into the highly-specialised and advanced use of the Bruker Micro-CT system instrumental in understanding the particular fatal brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM).

Dr Tea from the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) at University of South Australia (UniSA) is making strides towards both establishing a living glioblastoma biobank as a powerful resource to enhance glioblastoma research locally and nationally and using this resource to develop novel therapeutic strategies to combat glioblastoma.

The Molecular Signalling Laboratory recently established an advanced preclinical model of GBM through support from the Neurosurgical Research Foundation (NRF) and their burgeoning partnerships to combat one of the most powerful and unforgiving cancers.

GBM is the most commonly diagnosed malignant brain tumour in adults, affecting approximately 1000 Australian adults annually. With very few treatment options available, it is a highly fatal cancer with a median survival of less than 15 months and less than five per cent survival after five years.

The survival rates for brain cancer have barely changed over the last 30 years, therefore there is a desperate need to identify new and improved targeted therapies against GBM, so Dr Tea and the Molecular Signalling Lab have set their sights on learning more about this devastating disease.

Ultimately, this intensive training course provides the Molecular Signalling Lab with a better understanding of how GBM tumours respond to new and improved therapies, and in the long term may lead to desperately needed improved outcomes for these patients.

NRF Chair of Brain Tumour Research and Head of the Molecular Signalling Lab at CCB, Professor Stuart Pitson, is in full support of Dr Melinda Tea and says the grant funding is going to a worthy project in investing in micro-CT education.

“In 2017 Dr Tea moved within the CCB to my laboratory where she has since been instrumental in driving our research into the fatal glioblastoma brain cancer,” he says.

“Micro-CT is a non-invasive, 3-dimensional imaging technique, that provides specialised information above that of the tools currently used and allows for the volume of the tumour to be determined at various stages of disease progression can be determined.

“This is particularly important, as an increase in tumour volume causes an increase in the pressure inside the skull and is associated with an increase in neurological symptoms, resulting in rapid cognitive and functional decline and eventual death.

“The training Dr Tea will undertake in the advanced use of the Bruker Micro-CT system is vital to our brain tumour research and is key to her research efforts and her development of advanced pre-clinical models of GBM that we are establishing to drive glioblastoma research locally and nationally.”

The annual $5,000 grant has been made possible thanks to the memorial Chris Adams UniSA Research Grant that pays homage to Chris Adams’ indomitable spirit to help others facing a brain cancer diagnosis.

Chris Adams lost his battle with the rare grade-three anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumour in November 2015, in the midst of his UniSA business degree.

Taken far too early by a disease that has devastating effects on the lives of patients and their loved ones, Chris’ family is now dedicated to honouring his memory and spirit by supporting vital research to find a cure with the Chris Adams UniSA Research Grant.

Chris’s family and friends established the ‘Strong Enough To Live’ campaign raising $125,000 to support the grant which will be awarded each year to an early-career researcher working in a field of high-quality brain tumour research.

“We would like to congratulate Dr Melinda Tea on being this year's recipient of the Chris Adams Research Grant,” say Cherrie and Marty, Chris’ parents.

“How fortunate we are that we have gifted and dedicated researchers like Dr Tea who are working tirelessly to find a way to improve the odds of survival for people like Chris and the thousands of other brain cancer sufferers that do not deserve to die.

“We hope that the fundraising initiated by Chris and continued in his name will assist researchers to find a cure for this insidious disease.”

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