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Tag: research

Cracking the code to cancer immunotherapy

Through the generous contributions of our community, in 2018 Reflections donated funds to support a Postdoctoral Fellowship through Cancer Council WA under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Chee. We recently received an update on the progress of the study Cracking the Code to Cancer Immunotherapy and this is what we have to share with you.

When asked what the most significant achievement was, Dr Chee responded saying that he collected tumours from animals that responded well to immunotherapy and completed key experiments that generated a robust data set. With the dataset, Dr Chee is able to use new mathematical tools to interrogate how changes in the immune system can predict immunotherapy outcomes. The two research aims for the study, which have both been partially achieved, are:

  • Developing novel immune biomarkers of responses to immunotherapy in mesothelioma, and
  • Developing a personalised therapeutic vaccine targeting mutated cancer antigens.

Aim 1 has been successful in demonstrating that immunotherapy outcomes are reliant upon the dynamic changes that occur in the immune system within a tumour before and after treatment. Detecting possible predictors of immunotherapy responses have been established through the development of new mathematical methods. This study is also in the process of being extended to patient blood samples from a recently completed clinical trial.

As for aim 2, they have found that vaccine targeting cancer mutations were not able to protect from tumour growth. Therefore, they are focussing on how to improve vaccine strategies.

Dr Chee has been successful throughout the research, involving being promoted to Level B, Step 1 at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and was selected as a mentor for top-scoring undergraduate students. This was under the UWA Fogarty Scholarship Mentoring Scheme, which started in July 2019 and ends in July 2020. Dr Chee has also formed a new collaboration with two Professors from the University of Pennsylvania. They have utilised novel analytical tools they developed to study immunosequencing data derived from melanoma patients that underwent personalised vaccination.

Dr Chee and his students have presented their results to the general public through their annual community forum, and to members of the Ban Asbestos Network and the Asbestos Victims Association (South Australia).

Dr Jonathan Chee and his team

*All information was sourced from the Cancer Council WA Fellowship Progress / Final Report

A year in reflection

Thank you to our supporters!

As we look back on the past financial year, prepare audit reports and plan for the year ahead, we would like to say, “THANK YOU!” As a volunteer-run organisation, we rely on your support to carry out the work we do in and for the community.

A quick overview of our past year…


Our support group continues to be an encouragement for people affected by asbestos-related disease, both sufferers and families alike. Whether relaxing over coffee and cake at our monthly morning tea or enjoying a picnic in the park, friendships are made, and bonds formed. Sadly, we have lost some of the group to mesothelioma over the past year, but their memory lives on. We are thankful for the time we had with each of them.

We are excited to be forming a relationship with Solaris Cancer Care who have extended their warm hospitality to our group. Providing support, wellness programs, and many other fantastic resources, we look forward to growing this connection. Our monthly morning teas are held at their beautiful offices in Cottesloe on the first Monday of each month. Contact us to find out more…new members are always welcome!

Support Group


Fun, fashion and fundraising combined in March with the smashing event – STEELTOES & STILETTOS. This unique event brought the risk of asbestos to the big stage as tradies were sponsored to walk the catwalk with a model on the night.

The Foundation would like to personally thank our major sponsors – ANZ Enviro, ABN Group, Steel Blue, Planet Acoustics & Architecture, Clipsal by Schneider Electric and our community sponsors along with the courageous tradies and everyone who helped make the night such a huge success. This sensational event would not have been possible nor so successful, without so much amazing support!

The $30,000 raised by the tradies will be used to create further awareness of the risks of asbestos to reduce the ongoing impact of asbestos on our community.

Steeltoes & Stilettos 2019


We are proud to support some of the world’s leading experts in mesothelioma research. Thanks to our donors, this past year we were able to donate $30,000 to a Post-Doctoral Fellowship through the Cancer Council. Jonathan Chee and his colleagues, in association with Professor Anna Nowak and her team, are researching responses to immunotherapy in mesothelioma sufferers, aspiring to better treatment outcomes.

As this financial year draws to a close, we invite you to make a donation so that we can keep doing this important work. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible and will be used to reduce the impact of asbestos on our community.

One final note from our founder, Barry Knowles…“My prayer is that a cure will be discovered for those who will suffer this horrible disease in years to come. And that young people are made aware to avoid exposure.”

Thank you again for your support.

Jo Morris speaks with 6PR’s Gareth Parker about the inaugural STEELTOES & STILETTOS

Jo Morris speaks with 6PR’s Gareth Parker about the inaugural Steeltoes & Stilettos to be held 9 March in the heart of Northbridge.

An event bringing the risk of asbestos to the big stage, tradies are dobbed in and sponsored to walk the catwalk with a model on the night. Funds raised by tradies will be used to reduce the impact of asbestos on the community.

For more information or to be involved, visit Steeltoes & Stilettos event website or contact:
Jo Morris | jomo@reflections.org.au | 0407 255 221

NCARD Research Fellowship

In 2016, we had the opportunity to contribute $50,000 to fund a research fellow at the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), Dr Linda Ye. Dr Le has since completed her Research Fellowship in lung cancer research and is inspired to continue onto a PhD.

Acknowledgement by Professor Anna Nowak, Director NCARD

On behalf of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), I wish to thank you for Reflections Through Reality’s generous research support. As you will read in this report, NCARD celebrated many achievements of staff and students in 2018.

A key aspect of NCARD’s collaborative research future is recognising and developing exceptional, passionate and determined research students. Your support has seen Dr Linda Ye complete her Research Fellowship with us at NCARD in lung cancer research and inspired her to continue onto a PhD. Dr Ye represents the next generation of researchers who will build on our work and develop the breakthroughs of the future.

Thank you once again for your ongoing support and investment in our vision.

Clinical trial preparations

During her lung cancer fellowship, under the primary supervision of Professor Bruce Robinson, Linda worked with the NCARD team to develop, write, and achieve ethics approval of a clinical trial protocol looking to explore the novel therapeutic strategy of neoantigen vaccination, initially in patients with lung cancer, with expansion into mesothelioma planned in the future. This treatment is expected to help one’s own immune system fight the cancer by generating an immune response against an individual’s unique cancer mutations. Ongoing planning and development are underway and the trial will be ready to start recruiting in the near future.

Lung cancer research projects

Additionally, Linda conducted regular lung cancer clinics and undertook two research projects based on molecular testing of lung cancer. These two projects helped to assess the pattern of expression of immunological and molecular markers in the Western Australian lung cancer population, and demonstrated the efficacy and feasibility of a new molecular test to detect a specific mutation seen in lung cancer. These projects were both presented at the Australasian Lung Cancer Conference in 2018, one has been accepted for publication and the other has just been submitted for publication.

Future plans

Linda enjoyed her time as the NCARD research fellow immensely and the opportunity provided her with invaluable research and clinical experience, made possible by Reflections Through Reality. She hopes to continue lung and mesothelioma related research in the future and is currently planning to pursue a PhD through the neoantigen vaccine project.

Download the full report here

Reflections’ donation used to fund Research Fellow

Message from Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice Chancellor, The University of Western Australia…

“Thank you for your continuing support of The University of Western Australia and the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD).

As you are aware, research is the key to finding the answers to our questions about mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases. Your support of this research and the team at NCARD is instrumental in bringing us one step closer to finding the answers to those questions, and hopefully, one day a cure.

We are proud of our association with Reflections through Reality; your work in the community in supporting patients through treatment, and raising awareness about mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases is truly commendable.

Once again, thank you for your support, encouragement and belief in our students, researchers and our institution – you truly are making a difference.”

Professor Dawn Freshwater

Click here to read about Dr Linda Ye’s research in lung cancer and mesothelioma research.

Miracle man is racing time – The Weekend West October 2016

Barry Knowles is in a race against time, hoping researchers can unlock the secret behind his amazing battle against mesothelioma.

The 72-year-old has been dubbed a miracle man for the past six years, incredibly surviving the deadly asbestos disease without medical intervention.

Researchers have been trying to work out how his immune system has kept the disease at bay, in the hope they can replicate its effect in a vaccine that stimulates an attack on the cancer… Read full article

Mesothelioma ‘miracle man’ Barry Knowles determined to help find a cure

The first step towards finding a vaccine began today when Mr Knowles handed lead researcher Professor Bruce Robinson a cheque for $50,000 from the Reflections Through Reality Foundation. 

Until recently, the retired builder who lives in Helena Valley stunned the medical world by surviving the disease without medical intervention…. Read full article

Family and friends were present to support Barry at the Rotary Perth luncheon.

Mesothelioma survivor Barry Knowles, raising funds for a cure

Barry Knowles had planned his own funeral and paid for his burial plot… but has survived and is determined to make a difference.

Channel 7 News article

Barry Knowles is a medical phenomenon that even doctors can’t explain

Unlocking secrets to Barry’s cancer fight win.

The retired builder has set up the Reflections Through Reality Foundation, to raise funds for the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

The foundation is being launched today by WA Governor Kerry Sanderson at a lunch hosted by the Rotary Club of Perth, which is a partner on the project.

The West Article