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Molecular medicine

Overview

Our research in this area is conducted by the Genomics Research Centre, located within the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation under the direction of Professor Lyn Griffiths.

Genomics Research Centre (GRC)

The Genomics Research Centre (GRC) undertakes research on the genetic basis of disease through the use of its unique population resources and the application of genetic studies to common, complex human disorders. It:

  • employs over 30 research staff, including principal researchers, postdoctoral scientists, research assistants, postgraduate and honours students
  • is well equipped and funded by national competitive grants and industry
  • has a number of established and long-standing collaborating clinicians.

Researchers investigate the genetic and environmental factors involved in common chronic human disorders, with a focus on the understanding of complex genetic pathways of common disorders including migraine, cardiovascular disease (CVD), neurodegenerative disease, multiple sclerosis, and a number of cancers including lymphoma, skin and breast cancer.

In addition, the GRC also has cell culture facilities to examine the neural lineage fate of human mesenchymal and neural stem cells as well as studies on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Our goal is to identify genes that play a causative role in these disorders in order to develop improved diagnostics, models of repair and therapeutic strategies.

Aims of the Genomics Research Centre

Specifically, the centre's aims include:

  • identification of the genes involved in common complex human diseases
  • continued expansion of our extensive genomic sample repository of DNA, case-control samples, pedigree and genetic isolate populations
  • utilisation of our genomic sample repository for population, functional, clinical and pharmacogenomic studies
  • characterisation of gene structure and function
  • elucidation of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions
  • development and application of improved diagnostic techniques and therapies
  • National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited clinical genomic diagnostic testing and clinical trials
  • examination of clinical material toward the development of targeted therapeutics
  • utilisation of human cell culture models for improved models of diagnostic screening and repair.

Infrastructure

  • TIA (Therapeutic Innovation Australia) - Queensland Node Molecular Diagnostics Facility (Sequenom MASSArray platform, Ion Torrent next-generation sequencing platform, Illumina HiScan)
  • QUT Genomics Clinical Trials Facility
  • Genomics Research Centre Sequencing Service (DNA/RNA extractions, Sanger sequencing, NGS, HRM, RFLP, Q-PCR, Pyrosequencing etc)

Performance

Developing new researchers

Higher degree research students
12

Publication output

2012 total
29
2011 total
24

Research income

2008-2012
$6.98 million

Key grants

  • NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council)
  • ARC (Australian Research Council)
  • Brain Foundation
  • Queensland State Government
  • Industry
  • Philanthropic
  • MS Australia

Partnerships

International linkages

  • Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Texas, USA
  • Institute of Medical Biology, Singapore
  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA
  • Italian National Research Council, Italy
  • Penn State University, USA
  • University of Vienna, Austria
  • Stanford University, USA
  • University of Oslo, Norway
  • University of Auckland, New Zealand

Significant corporate partnerships

  • Blackmores
  • Corbett Research

Impact

Evidence of impact

Phase I and Phase II clinical trials investigating a new preventative treatment for severe migraine have been conducted at the Genomics Research Centre. These clinical trials have investigated the efficacy of a treatment directed towards a migraine implicated gene, with results showing a significant effect on migraine frequency, severity and pain levels. A further Phase III clinical trial is currently being finalised which is investigating the dose regime in relation to migraine genotype. As a result it is expected that a nutraceutical product will be available in Australia in 2015.

The Genomics Research Centre has established the Genomics Clinical Trials Facility on the Gold Coast, a QUT distributed site. This facility is currently conducting a clinical trial investigating the efficacy of a drug in delaying the first symptoms of cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's Disease. This five-year study involves 55 sites worldwide, with three in Australia including the Genomics Research Centre site at the Gold Coast.

Commercialisation

The Genomics Research Centre undertakes diagnostic testing for severe migraine and related neurogenetic disorders - one of the only laboratories nationally, and one of only a few internationally, to provide this service. In 2013 improvements in the testing protocol resulted in a NATA accredited next-generation sequencing (NGS) diagnostic service - the first one in Australia.

Outcomes from previous research have been patented, with two being licensed to industry for commercialisation. A licensing agreement is currently being negotiated for the commercialisation of migraine nutraceutical product.

Research enquiries

IHBI research enquiries

Contact us to find out about research and discovery at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI).

Genomics Clinical Trial Centre