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Dr Arutha Kulasinghe: spatial profiling and fighting COVID-19

November 30, 2020 News

Dr Arutha Kulasinghe is a Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), working on novel ways to identify how a patient may respond to treatment and/or disease, particularly of Head and Neck Cancers.

Arutha’s work involves spatial mapping, high-resolution technology that helps navigate the complex micro-environment of a tumour. In noting and analysing the tiny interactions that occur, researchers can better understand what’s happening inside a tumour, and most importantly, why. From here, they can work on targeted therapies for treatment.

Arutha currently holds a GPRWMF Conjoint Grant with Associate Professor Brett Hughes, where they are working to identify the ways a patient may respond to immunotherapy – a “game-changer” for tumours, which stimulates the immune response to treat or prevent them from growing. The results of immunotherapy can be incredible, however with no way to predict if a patient will even respond to the treatment, let alone how well, Arutha and Brett’s research is a vital step in improving how we treat and understand Head and Neck Cancer.

Recently, Arutha put his expertise on spatial profiling to use in the fight against COVID-19. “It has been a fascinating and eye-opening journey working on the fight against COVID-19,” says Arutha, who, as Project Lead of a team at QUT, collaborated with researchers at The University of Queensland and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research to identify a triage biomarker for stratifying COVID-19 disease severity.  This incredible research was recognised by AusBiotech, with the Dual COVID-19 Life Science Sector Collaboration and Industry Choice Award. Congratulations to all those involved.

Arutha’s was also awarded the Early Career Award at the International Head and Neck Cancer conference (held online), for his paper Profiling the tumour micro-environment with digital spatial profiling.

“This has all been possible because of the support the GPRWMF has in my work. It’s been so reassuring to have that backing,” says Arutha. “I plan to apply this ‘knowledge-gain’ to head and neck cancers and intricately annotate these tumours to identify better patient-specific therapies.” 

To learn more about Arutha and his work, please visit the link below.

External link: QUT Profile on Arutha