$11.2 million for medical research

2 February 2022

Four Faculty of Medicine research projects aiming to improve the health outcomes for Australians affected by some of the world’s rarest cancers and diseases have been awarded funding.

The $11.2 million boost is part of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Rare Cancers, Rare Disease and Unmet Need grants program.

Congratulations to the following Faculty of Medicine research teams who were successful:

Professor Dan Siskind – UQ Medical School - $3,839,117.60
SWiMS - Schizophrenia Weight, Metformin and Semaglutide: A double blind double dummy placebo controlled multi-centre RCT

Antipsychotics are the mainstay of treatment for schizophrenia. However, antipsychotics are linked with obesity and diabetes, which increase the risk of heart disease. Preliminary research suggests the diabetes drugs semaglutide and metformin can reduce antipsychotic-related obesity. The team will undertake a national clinical trial to establish the role of semaglutide and metformin in reducing weight among obese people taking antipsychotics.

Professor Marina Reeves – School of Public Health - $2,044,955.10
Optimising Care: Phase III Trial in women with metastatic breast cancer to improve quality of life via exercise and diet

Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) have a poor prognosis (30 per cent five-year survival) and poor quality of life. While many programs and services are available to support women with early-stage breast cancer, few supportive care interventions are available for women facing a terminal diagnosis. This trial will evaluate whether an exercise and dietary intervention can improve the quality of life of women with MBC.

Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani – UQ Diamantina Institute - $2,486,489.20
The SiroSkin study: A multi-centre randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of 1 per cent topical sirolimus in the chemoprevention of facial squamous cell carcinomas in solid organ transplant recipients.

Upon receiving an organ transplantation, recipients are at very high risk of skin cancer. This can lead to many surgeries in the patient's lifetime, or to the death of the patient. This clinical trial will explore topical cream to reduce the burden of disease. This will provide transplant recipients at risk of skin cancer with a viable option to reduce the morbidity of the disease as well as the cost burden.

Professor Maher Gandhi – Mater Research Institute-UQ - $2,844,744.60
An early phase, open label, multi-centre trial of front-line TheRapy for EBv-associated Lymphomas – 2: TREBL-2

In this Australasian Leukaemia Lymphoma Group Phase-1 study, the team will use front-line immunotherapy in an innovative trial that targets the unique viral-immuno-biological features of a rare but devastating type of virally driven lymphoma. It is called ‘EBV-associated Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma’. The aim is to provide a highly targeted but relatively well-tolerated therapy, that eradicates disease and prevents relapse by restoring immunity.