HBT17214801.JPG HEALTHY COMPETITION: Peter Gregory from Lexus Hawke's Bay (sponsor), former Hawke's Bay resident Josh Lange and Malaghan Institute board trustee David Mossman at a golf tournament at Hastings Golf Club to support Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. Photo/Duncan Brown
Hawke's Bay businesses banded together for a game of golf in aid of groundbreaking cancer research yesterday.
More than 100 people headed to Hastings Golf Club for an annual tournament to support the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.
A record 26 teams of local business leaders brought their staff for a game for a round of golf before a charity auction which raised $40,000 for the pioneering cancer treatment specialists.
Competitors were joined by Hastings-raised Malaghan Institute immunologist Joshua Lange, who was there with colleague Dr Olivier Gasser to support the event and update the Hawke's Bay Friends of Malaghan Institute on their progress in cancer immunotherapy.
Mr Lange was thrilled to be back in Hawke's Bay for the event and was overwhelmed by the support for the Malaghan Institute.
"It's great to see we have so many people backing us. It's actually fantastic especially because it's my home town."
Mr Lange's team at Malaghan Institute has just discovered how a recently identified immune cell can be used to marshal an immune attack against cancer cells.
"In collaboration with the Ferrier Institute we have developed new vaccines that can activate these immune cells leading to an immune response towards proteins unique to cancer cells.
"Ultimately we now believe the body's own immune system holds the key to fighting cancer. It's very exciting."
Growing up in Hawke's Bay, Mr Lange attended St John's College where his passion for science first evolved.
Heading off to Otago to complete a Bachelor of Science majoring in Microbiology and Immunology saw the young science "whiz kid" achieve first class honours in Immunology.
Mr Lange was then invited to finish his PhD at Malaghan Institute.
"It was a great honour to be accepted to the Malaghan Institute. I'd always admired the work they do and several of my lecturers 'cut their teeth' there.
"It is, without doubt, the best place in New Zealand for the study of the immune system and cancer therapy.
"To be able to take science and find a possible cure for families affected by cancer is a unique position to be in.
"It's about hope and the ground we are breaking every day in the lab is providing more and more hope, what we're doing will change people's lives and that's very special."
The institute recently signed a deal with Chinese researchers which will see clinical trials of the pioneering therapy (CAR-T) start in New Zealand next year.
"The transfusion style treatment involves taking T-cells out of the body, 'supercharging' them so they recognise proteins on cancer cells, putting them back into the body, where they start reproducing and killing the cancer cells."
Veterinary identity and Malaghan Institute board trustee David Mossman said he was proud to see a former Hawke's Bay resident part of the institute scientific progress.
"To have a young man of Joshua's scientific calibre making these scientific advances is a real coup for Hawke's Bay.
"It's absolutely wonderful to see. We've had one or two other outstanding young people from Hawke's Bay go on to work at Malaghan and it's proving a wonderful career path.
"Hawke's Bay is a huge cog in the fundraising wheel. Denise Bull chairs the charity golf match for the Hawke's Bay Friends of Malaghan and does an exemplary job."
Hundreds of local foundations, trusts, businesses and individuals contribute financially each year through fundraising initiatives like the golf tournament, he said. Events like this helped fund equipment scientists desperately need.
"The science is good - we're at a very exciting stage."