The Coopers Brewery Foundation backs South Australian cystic fibrosis research.
Cure4CF Foundation was thrilled to be beneficiary of the generosity of the Coopers Brewery Foundation recently, with a donation of $31,900 towards research to cure cystic fibrosis airway disease. A donation which Cure4CF Foundation Chairman, David Coluccio says “Could not have arrived at a better time”.
Every four days a baby is born with cystic fibrosis (CF) in Australia and in most cases, to parents who were unaware they were carriers of the defective gene – since carriers can be unaffected.
Cystic fibrosis is the most common inherited disease causing premature death affecting the developed world. CF is both life impacting, being a multi-organ disease, affecting the lungs, gut, liver, pancreas and reproductive tissues - and life limiting, even with recent medical advances, at present about half of those with CF will die by their late 30s from lung disease.
There is currently no cure.
But thanks to incredibly generous partners in the community like the Coopers Brewery Foundation, the Cure4CF Foundation aims to change that.
Established in 2009, the Cure4CF vision is to find a cure for cystic fibrosis by raising and directing funds to promising avenues of research. To date, this has seen the Foundation support the work of the Adelaide CF Airway Gene Therapy Research Group
Over the past 15 years the research group has been working on their unique lentiviral gene vector with the aim of curing the airway disease caused by cystic fibrosis, which is by far the most common cause for early death.
The research group employs a world-leading gene transfer approach. They use an especially modified virus to take a correcting gene into the airway, supplementing the missing activity of the defective gene that causes CF airway disease. The cell can then take over the job of producing the normal airway physiology.
The most exciting aspect of the work is that although this approach should produce long-term gene therapy treatments, it is also a potential cure for the airway disease in CF. It is designed to include correction of airway stem cells. This means that as new airway cells are produced by the body they will have the corrected gene already operating within them. Success in this research area means that people living with CF airway disease will, for the first time, be able to live well with, or even be free of this lung disease.
Research undertaken by the team has already shown that their gene transfer approach is successful in several non-human models. The ongoing challenge, in Australia’s severely-restricted medical research environment, is to continue to develop their work to the point where they can commence human clinical trials.
If the techniques and strategies being developed by the team are successful, this research has the potential to vastly improve the lives of the 3,000 people living with CF in Australia, and more than 70,000 people worldwide.
It was the dedication of the research team and their innovative approach to finding a cure for CF that led the Coopers Brewery Foundation to encourage their shareholders to support this very important project being delivered in South Australia.
“Since the Foundation inception in 2006, we have distributed more than $3 million to support over 200 charitable projects and we look forward to supporting many more in the future” said Melanie Cooper, Coopers Foundation Board Director.
For Cure4CF Foundation, this donation arrived at a critical time for the research team.
A recent breakthrough in the UK further validated the gene correction research approach of the Adelaide CF Gene Therapy Research Group, and highlighted the need for additional funding to fast track this highly promising local program.
David Coluccio, Chairman of Cure4CF Foundation said “The Adelaide research team now has independent evidence for the first time, based on human clinical trials conducted in the UK, that a gene therapy can correct CF lung disease.”
“The type of treatment the Adelaide group are working on would benefit anyone with CF,” Mr Coluccio said. “Additionally, what is also exciting is that not only will this research contribute to a global cure for cystic fibrosis airway disease, but it also increases the worldwide knowledge on the use of gene therapies and stem cell research, to apply to developing treatments or cures of other genetic diseases.”
“The research team are passionate about finding a cure for CF, and the very generous support of the Coopers Foundation shows that the community feels as strongly as us that now is the time to cure cystic fibrosis; that now is the time to support this world leading research being conducted right here in Adelaide.
“Because of partners like the Coopers Brewery Foundation, the research team are able to accelerate their research efforts toward human clinical trials, which we would hope can begin in the next five years.
“But ongoing support is vital. To accelerate this research the Adelaide team needs funding, so we are hoping that the backing of an iconic organisation like Coopers Brewery, and the belief of their Foundation in this research will really encourage the community to consider supporting Cure4CF and its effort to find a cure for cystic fibrosis airway disease.
“We believe that together this is a disease we can, and will conquer.”