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New approaches to blood and liver cancer therapies recognised with $2.5 million CSL Centenary Fellowships

CSL 3 mins read
CSL Centenary Fellowships

Boosting exhausted T cells: Dr Daniel Utzschneider, Melbourne and
On the path to a liver cancer vaccine: Dr Ankur Sharma, Perth are the two research programs selected as a part of the global biotechnology company’s long-standing promise to support scientists in Australia

MELBOURNE – 12 October 2023 – Two Australian scientists have each been awarded CSL Centenary Fellowships, valued at $1.25 million over five years. They are each developing new kinds of potential cancer therapies, based on their fundamental research into cancer biology.

The Fellowships were presented at the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences Annual Meeting on Thursday 12 October 2023 in Brisbane.

Dr Ankur Sharma has discovered how liver cancer cells grow together in a similar way to the rapidly dividing cells of a human embryo. This behaviour allows them to resist treatment. He is now trialling ways to analyse these cells and determine which liver cancers may respond to immunotherapy.

The $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship will support his next bold steps at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth including the development of anti-cancer vaccines, which could one day allow us to manage cancer as a chronic disease.

Dr Daniel Utzschneider has identified how T cells can become exhausted from the constant battle against cancer, reducing the effectiveness of immunotherapy. These white blood cells are a key component of our adaptive immune systems.

He will use his $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship to accelerate his research at The Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne. He will investigate these exhausted T cells from different angles, to understand their biology, why they become exhausted, and how to boost their numbers and their ability to fight cancer.

CSL Head of Research and Chief Scientific Officer Dr Andrew Nash said, “Dr Sharma and Dr Utzschneider, have both made fundamental research discoveries that could transform cancer treatment in the coming decades.”

“We have seen significant advances in the way cancer is treated, yet Ankur and Daniel have demonstrated that there is still much to learn in this complex area of science. With the support of the CSL Centenary Fellowships, their research will provide a deeper understanding of the specific areas of cancer research they are both so dedicated to advancing,” he said. 

“The CSL Centenary Fellowships aim to support leading mid-career Australian researchers like Ankur and Daniel by providing funding stability to enable the delivery of innovations that could transform medicine for patients living with rare and serious diseases and protect public health.”

About the CSL Centenary Fellowships

The Fellowships are competitively selected, high-value grants available to mid-career Australians who wish to continue a career in medical research in Australia.

They are open to medical researchers working on discovery or translational research with a focus on rare or serious diseases, immunology or inflammation and are overseen by a selection committee comprising three independent members and two CSL representatives. The 2024 committee was chaired by Dr Andrew Nash.

The Fellowships were established to mark 100 years since the establishment of CSL in 1916. Two individual, five-year A$1.25 million fellowships are awarded each calendar year.

For further information, visit www.cslfellowships.com.au

About CSL

CSL (ASX:CSL; USOTC:CSLLY) is a leading global biotechnology company with a dynamic portfolio of lifesaving medicines, including those that treat haemophilia and immune deficiencies, vaccines to prevent influenza, and therapies in iron deficiency, dialysis and nephrology. Since our start in 1916, we have been driven by our promise to save lives using the latest technologies. Today, CSL – including our three businesses, CSL Behring, CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor – provides lifesaving products to patients in more than 100 countries and employs 30,000 people. Our unique combination of commercial strength, R&D focus and operational excellence enables us to identify, develop and deliver innovations so our patients can live life to the fullest. For inspiring stories about the promise of biotechnology, visit CSLBehring.com/Vita and follow us on Twitter.com/CSL.

For more information about CSL, visit www.CSL.com.

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Media Contact

Name: Kim O’Donohue

Mobile: +61 449 884 603

Email: Kim.O’Donohue@csl.com.au

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