Stories

Paul Johnstone from Crack Cycling rides for his mum

Paul Johnstone

My Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014.

I was devastated and was left feeling a bit helpless. I had started riding a bike in 2014 to try and sort out some of my own health issues, and I was relieved to discover the RTCC as an outlet to do something meaningful in support of my Mum. Since beginning my involvement with the RTCC I have been inspired by the stories of the Perkins Institute and the brave journeys of the people who benefit from their research. This is my 3rd ride and I'm pleased to say my mum is still around to see all of us get the job done! Love you, Mum!

Cristian Crisan from Team MACA is riding for his mum.

Cristian

Hi Ride to Conquer cancer! With the Mother's Day just around the corner I welcome the initiative to share few thoughts with you about Mum.

Yes, Mum is my Deep Why, my first Why I Ride (the Respectful Why, the Team Spirit Why and the Fun Why are listed on my personal page!)! The old lady is very strong and inspirational, being one of those winning the battle with cancer. All her life, as a nurse, she fought for others lives, together with the doctors in the front line of this war! She was so strong when it came about herself, showing an unwavering character and determination! Mum, I love you and I would like to thank you once again for being a such great model of not giving up!

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VIVA ENERGY

Internally the RTCC has raised our overall morale in the office. Staff last year really got engaged, encouraging each other through training or raising funds. There was a general sense of being part of a big team of all cycling abilities and staff also took the time to look out for their own wellbeing more.

My role here at Viva Energy has also been raised as part of our internal Jigsaw Community Partnership Program https://www.vivaenergy.com.au/about-us/jigsaw-community-partnership.

The WA Office efforts in 2016 raising funds and participating to the levels we did, really set the standard for all team fundraising throughout our company.

- Paul Russell, Key Account Manager, Resources WA, VIVA Energy

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Ground-breaking new study doubles the estimate of our functional genes

A landmark study mapping a poorly understood and highly controversial class of genes, known as long non-coding RNAs, has found evidence of evolutionary selection and links with major diseases, including cancer.

The findings, published in Nature today, were the latest work of the FANTOM5 consortium, a group of researchers from Japan and Australia led by Professor Alistair Forrest from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia.

The findings, published in Nature today, were the latest work of the FANTOM5 consortium, a group of researchers from Japan and Australia led by Professor Alistair Forrest from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia.

The work involved generating a comprehensive atlas of 27,919 long non-coding RNAs and summarised, for the first time, their expression patterns across the major human cell types and tissues.

By intersecting this atlas with genomic and genetic data, their results suggest that 19,175 of these RNAs might be functional, hinting that there could be as many, or even more, functional non-coding RNAs than the approximately 20,000 protein-coding genes in the human genome.

“There is strong debate in the scientific community on whether the thousands of long non-coding RNAs generated from our genomes are functional or simply by-products of a noisy transcriptional machinery.” says Professor Forrest.

“By integrating the improved gene models with data from gene expression, evolutionary conservation and genetic studies, we find compelling evidence that the majority of these long non-coding RNAs appear to be functional, and for nearly 2,000 of them we reveal their potential involvement in many genetic traits including predisposition to heart disease, obesity, depression, autoimmunity and various cancers.”

Professor Forrest who heads a laboratory at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the University of Western Australia and A/Professor Timo Lassmann (a co-author on the paper) at the Telethon Kids Institute both relocated from RIKEN Japan and maintain strong links there as visiting scientists. The importance of such international links were acknowledged recently with the FANTOM5 team being awarded the 2016 Eureka Scopus prize for Excellence in International Scientific Collaboration.

Professor Forrest who is funded by the Perth based Cancer Research Trust (CRT) and by funds raised by the annual MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer said, “It is a very tough time for Australian medical researchers. Funding is at record low levels and many highly talented researchers are in despair; quitting science or heading overseas. Philanthropic funding from groups like the CRT and the ride are becoming key to the survival of medical research in Australia.”

Other Australian based authors in the Nature paper were Dr Alison Testa at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research; Dr Dave Tang at the Telethon Kids Institute and Professor Christine Wells at the University of Melbourne.

Today’s publication is another important milestone for the FANTOM consortium, which in 2014 and 2015 used CAGE technology to build atlases of the promoters and enhancers in our genomes. The resources of the long non-coding RNA atlas are available at http://fantom.gsc.riken.jp/cat.

Sean Tucker

Hello, my name is Sean Tucker I'm currently 20 years of age, my cancer journey began when I was 13.

I was diagnosed with Stage III Non Hodgkin Lymphoma - Burkitt's on the 09.05.2009.

Before I get started I would like to share with you the motto I wrote in hospital to keep me going, and what I will eventually have tattooed on the side of my chest where my broviac once was.

"I do not fear death nor dying, only the fear of leaving others behind"

Click here to read the rest of Sean's emotional story.

Meet Perkins cancer researcher, Dr Anna Johansson.

Anna investigates immune therapy - which involves reprogramming our immune cells to fight cancer more effectively.

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“For a long time, cancer research was focused on killing cancer cells with chemo- or radiation therapy. Immune therapy is a newer treatment options which uses the body’s own immune system to attack the cancer cells” Anna said.

“The idea to activate the immune system is not new, but it’s only the last couple of decades that we have started to see progress. Previous research focusing on why the immune system fails to attack cancer cells has given us knowledge that we can use to engage the immune system. We now know how to modify the tumour to allow immune cells to enter and kill the cancer cells, as well as how to keep the immune cells active within tumours.”

So far, Anna has focussed her research on pancreatic cancer, and to a smaller extent lung and breast cancer. Anna’s current work aims to develop new combination therapies.

“There are two antibodies clinically approved that show great promise in metastatic melanoma, as well as other types of cancer. However, clinical benefits could still be improved. The treatments we are working on are examples of combination treatments. The antibodies remove the ‘cellular hand-break’ for immune cells and activates them to kill cancer cells. We are looking into bringing more immune cells into the cancer core so that these antibodies work even better right in the centre of the cancer.”

Learn more about Anna’s work at: www.perkins.org.au/our-research/divisions/cancer/vascular-biology-and-stromal-targeting

Anna did the ride in 2012 and 2015.

Craig Wells, MAMILS

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Our story is about two mates who had known each other since early high school in the mid 80’s. 24 months ago one of them discovered that they had throat cancer, this husband and father of two young children then faced the grim journey of treatment and recovery. The other mate feeling quite helpless about it all saw an ad on TV for the ride and signed himself up to commit to raise $2,500 and ride 200km in two days.

Each wonderful member of Team MAMILS rides for their own very special reason.

Click here to read the rest of Craig's emotional story.

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Christine Bartlem

8 years ago at 56, not long after winning the over 50 division of my first triathlon, I had an appointment for a breast check.

I was working full time, fit and riding a round trip of 32km to work each day, so I viewed the check as more of a nuisance than anything. Even though my mother had gone through breast cancer, it didn’t enter my thoughts that this could be a real possibility for me.

My sister-in-law Terri, who was just 42, had been diagnosed five years earlier with breast cancer. It was around this time that we realised we were going to lose her despite her valiant efforts.

Whilst having those initial tests and resisting the urge to run out the door, I calmed myself down by thinking about how they knew where to put the injections and marveling at the high tech equipment.

I came to the conclusion that it all had to start from research. My son is a Molecular Biologist so I understand how hard it is to access funds for research, as well as the long hours that go hand in hand with the dedication required to make a breakthrough. I decided then and there that I wanted to assist in any way I could to raise the funds necessary to continue research into a cure for cancer.

Now at this stage it was 4 pm. I had arrived at 8 am to a packed waiting room and now there were only two of us left. We looked at each other for the first time, came together and hugged, my bravado vanishing as like a lightning bolt it dawned on me I could be in trouble. And I was.

Following my surgery and radiation, I started to think about ways to help raise funds. I became aware of the inaugural Ride to Conquer Cancer and quickly realised that this how I could help, and with two others I did.