What an amazing year we have had! Thank you to all our wonderful collaborators and supporters for making this year possible. With your help we have seen some remarkable growth and progress throughout BCBA and BCC.
We can’t wait to reconnect in the new year and see what we can continue to achieve together!
Wishing everyone a happy, safe and restful holiday season.
This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the passing of Lucie Leonard. Lucie is the inspiration behind Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia and the daughter of Founder Robyn Leonard. Lucie was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 27 and sadly lost her seven-year battle in 2012.
Through Lucie’s tragic journey with brain cancer, it became very clear to Robyn that there was a desperate need for more research into this cruel disease. Despite killing more children in Australia than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer, brain cancer remains one of the most under-researched of all cancers.
Robyn quickly became a passionate brain cancer consumer advocate, establishing both Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia and its charity arm, the Brain Cancer Collective, to enable a collaborative approach to providing researchers with access to the tissue and data they need to make real breakthroughs in brain cancer research.
Last month twin brothers, Jonathan and Benjamin Siero, embarked on a monumental 3500km bike ride from Fremantle to Melbourne to honour their stepfather who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2021 and raise much needed funds for research.
Brain cancer can affect anyone and everyone, even those closest to you. I’m looking to bring awareness to brain cancer and hopefully reach our fundraising target to support the Brain Cancer Collective - Jonathan Siero.
Sisters, Jenny Tierney & Melissa Peros, took on their epic cycle challenge from home. Riding 1528kms non-stop on their beloved father’s exercise bike in his memory and for all those like him, who lost their lives to brain cancer last year.
It is a cruel disease that robs you of your loved one right before your eyes, before they themselves are even aware of it, yet there is very little research into brain cancer - Melissa Peros.
The clinical trial landscape is dominated by new drugs and treatment - but what if only a small change to an already established, standard treatment could lead to better outcomes? BCBA Steering Committee member, A/Prof Craig Gedye, is leading this novel approach with the establishment of the MAGMA (Multi-Arm GlioblastoMa Australasia) clinical trial.
“We’re aiming to use multiple innovations in trial design to test changes in the way we use our existing treatments for brain cancer; changes we hope will have big impacts for future patients,” Gedye said.
The trial is currently testing temozolomide – a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat brain cancer – and making simple adjustments to when and how it is delivered within the current treatment protocol.
“These kinds of simple questions have led to significant improvements in other cancers”, he said
“It’s changed how we recommend treatment to people with prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and other cancers”.
The MAGMA trial is currently open at hospitals across Australia for people newly diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM). Please click here for more information.
BCBA consortium member Professor Leonie Quinn has developed the ACT’s first brain cancer biobank. The Head of Genome Science and Cancer Division at John Curtin School of Medical Research established the Canberra Brain Cancer Collaborative to enable biobanking and genomic-based brain cancer research, to benefit patients in the ACT and around the world.
“I am looking forward to building our collection and ensuring the samples are accessible to all Australian researchers as part of BCBA’s National Brain Cancer Biospecimen Register,” she said.
The new biobank will support the clinical research of Professor Quinn’s lab to better understand and identify mutations driving brain cancer and make important progress in developing new personalised brain cancer treatments.
“This will be critical for enabling targeted drug discovery research and improved outcomes for patients”.
We are delighted that BCBA’s fundraising arm, the Brain Cancer Collective (BCC), has been chosen as charity partner for the ABC’s Andrew Olle Media Lecture. The event is held annually to honour one of Australia’s most iconic broadcasters, Andrew Olle, who lost his life to brain cancer.
BCC Chair, Professor Michael Besser AM and Directors, Robyn Leonard and Sharon Bell were privileged to share the BCBA/BCC story to raise awareness and much needed funds at this prestigious media event.
Associate Professor Eng-Siew Koh brings a unique perspective to the BCBA Steering Committee. An academic radiation oncologist and Chair of the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO), Koh represents the leap from research enabled by BCBA tissue banking into clinical trials.
“Moving from the lab to the patient space via clinical trials requires collaboration at the highest level – and I am honoured to be part of that team approach.”
A/Prof Koh describes her role as COGNO Chair as her biggest professional achievement. She is committed to its broad portfolio of clinical trials and driven by the intellectual challenge of research,
“I enjoy the opportunity to make a contribution to progressing knowledge and ultimately improving outcomes for brain cancer patients,” she said.
Brain Cancer Awareness Month has begun with wonderful recognition for our Founding Chair, Professor Michael Besser AM, who has been awarded the 2022 Neurosurgical Society of Australasia Medal in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to neurosurgery and the neurosurgical community.
Professor Besser spearheaded the development of the BCBA Consortium in 2015 and his leadership and knowledge have been invaluable since. He became an integral part of the vision for BCBA following his care for Lucie Leonard as her neurosurgeon.
“I’m sure we’re not the only family forever grateful for his skill and care as we came to grips with the realities of a brain cancer diagnosis,’ said BCBA Founder, Robyn Leonard.
Congratulations to Professor Besser from all at BCBA!
A massive thank you to all those who travelled down to the Southern Highlands and took to the road (braving the many potholes) to support our fundraising arm, the Brain Cancer Collective, and in turn the work of the BCBA Consortium. As our Director, Robyn Leonard says,
'These passionate cyclists are the heart and soul of our charity. We’re just so grateful for their support, particularly to Kent Williams at Entoure de Vines who organised this event in lieu of our annual 2-day Bike Ride for Brain Cancer – postponed yet again due to COVID, but hopefully back on the road in 2023.'
To all involved with the SOHN HEARTS & MINDS Investment Leaders Conference we say thank you for your valuable ongoing support for the work we do every day to bring about change in brain cancer.
Because of you we are able to keep putting in the hard yards needed to provide access to scarce tissue samples for research and build a long overdue registry of clinical data to improve the delivery of care for all brain cancer patients.
Working with BCBA members at the Sid Faithful Brain Cancer Laboratory and Cell Culture Bank at QIMR-Berghofer, Dr Lachlan Harris has received grant funding for his novel approach to tackling the deadly brain cancer, glioblastoma (GBM). Calling on his experience as a developmental biologist, Dr Harris is targeting GBM by attacking the slowly dividing or ‘sleeping’ stem cells that resist treatment and cause the tumour to recur. By forcing these cells to ‘wake up’ and divide rapidly, they become more vulnerable to chemotherapy, thereby delaying or even preventing recurrence. It’s an approach that has been shown to be effective in leukaemia, but to date has not been tested in brain cancer.
5th - 6th May 2023
BCBA’s fundraising arm, the Brain Cancer Collective, will hold its annual 2 day 250km Bike Ride for Brain Cancer on 5th and 5th May in 2023. The riders will regroup for the boutique event that takes a scenic route from Sydney to the Hunter Valley and finishes in the beautiful grounds of Calais Estate Winery. We hope that you will support our efforts to advance brain cancer research by visiting our website to register your interest.
ADVANCE BRAIN CANCER RESEARCHSUPPORT US