News « Charlie Teo Foundation

2 March 2022

Today the Charlie Teo Foundation held our first ever Brain Cancer Research Symposium, as we celebrate 4 years since our official launch as an Australian charity!

Brain cancer researchers from around the globe presented their work, patients and families shared their unique and powerful stories, and our scientific advisory committee stimulated meaningful discussion.

Dr Charlie Teo reflected on the day:

Today was our inaugural research conference at which every scientist funded by the Charlie Teo Foundation had the opportunity to present their projects. As a testament to how engaged and dedicated they were, not a single person exited the virtual meeting until its completion.

The presentations were exciting, innovative, scientifically robust, novel and readily translatable to the bedside. The scientists were equally passionate about their projects as they were to share ideas and collaborate with each other.

The symposium gave me an incredibly positive feeling about the worth of the Charlie Teo Foundation. Everything that I had set out to achieve, I felt was coming to fruition… and at a much more accelerated rate than I ever imagined!

The goals of Charlie Teo Foundation were to be disruptive, transparent, fiscally lean and tenacious in our pursuit of finding treatments for Australian patients specifically, and all brain tumour patients.

I felt incredibly emotional and confident listening to all these disruptive thinkers. I know that the Charlie Teo Foundation is executing on exactly what we set out to achieve when we opened our doors 4 years ago this very week.”

View Symposium Program Booklet.

December 2021

Read more about Charlie’s Letter

November 2021

Audi Foundation and Charlie Teo Foundation renew partnership to drive progress in brain cancer.

In September 2018 we announced our new multi-year partnership with the Audi Foundation. We are thrilled to announce that the Audi Foundation and the Charlie Teo Foundation have renewed our partnership for a further 2 years. This represents an investment by the Audi Foundation of close to $1 million in our game-changing brain cancer research. Simply amazing!

“The Audi Foundation has great confidence in the pioneering and ground-breaking work of the Charlie Teo Foundation,” said Paul Sansom, Chairman of the Audi Foundation and Managing Director of Audi Australia.

“Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease in Australia, and as the cause of brain cancer is still unknown, we as an organisation understand how vital research into the disease is. We are delighted to be able to have supported the Charlie Teo Foundation since 2018 and are committed to continue to do so,” concluded Paul.

“The continuation of our successful partnership with the Audi Foundation brings hope to our brain cancer community at a time when it is truly needed,” said Dr Charlie Teo.

“Audi Foundation has put their trust and confidence in our progressive approach to funding brain cancer research, and to have their backing into the future is truly amazing. Audi and the Charlie Teo Foundation are equally pioneering in our respective fields. Our people think outside the box and are always looking for cutting-edge technology and ideas. Above all, our passion for what we both do fuels us. That’s why our partnership is so unique,” Dr Teo concluded.

Under our partnership to date, about half a million dollars has been invested in research like a world-first genomics, transcriptomics and velocity analysis of 100 high-grade brain cancer samples. This advanced technology is used to map and predict the journey of thousands of brain cancer cells at once, so we can treat the brain cancer.

Other partnership highlights include:

  • Our Founder presented at the Audi Australia Dealer of the Year Awards earlier this year
  • Conversations with Charlie hosted by Audi Centre Brisbane
  • Talented Audi staff generously volunteered for the Charlie Teo Foundation

This partnership announcement coincides with the launch of the Audi Foundation’s latest fundraising raffle. All proceeds go to their charity partners including the Charlie Teo Foundation! Enter now for your chance to win a brand-new Audi RS Q3 Sportback:

Together, we are driving meaningful change to the lives of people affected by brain cancer.

October 2021

Storm International to donate $1,000 to the Charlie Teo Foundation from every new cleaning contract.

We are proud to announce our new corporate partnership with Storm International, Australia’s leading bespoke commercial cleaning company. For every new cleaning contract won, Storm International will donate $1,000 to the Charlie Teo Foundation to fund brain cancer research.

Storm International was founded over 20 years ago by renowned SBS journalist, Wilson Younan OAM. Away from his time at SBS, Wilson grew Storm International from a 2-person cleaning business to the national business it is today that employs hundreds of people.

Wilson Younan sadly passed away in 2020 after a battle with brain cancer. This is why Storm International and the Charlie Teo Foundation have come together in the quest to find a cure for brain cancer.

Wilson’s daughter, Maria Younan, is the General Manager of Storm International. “Our first meeting with Charlie gave us hope and answers that we were looking for. Most importantly he was able to deliver what he promised and gave my father a real fighting chance. No other neurosurgeon did that for us. Charlie is a miracle worker and in a class of his own, from beginning to end he and his team went over and beyond our expectations. Our partnership with the Charlie Teo Foundation gives us the opportunity to share our father’s story with our clients and our community”, said Maria.

“We are privileged to partner with Storm International and have so much respect for this incredible business. The team has come up with a novel way to give back to charity, and at the same time honour the spirit and values of their founder,” said Alana Phadke, CEO of the Charlie Teo Foundation.

“Storm International’s new clients will be helping to change the game when it comes to research into treating brain cancer,” Alana concluded.

Visit Storm International’s website:

June 2021

By Linda Music, Volunteer Health Writer for the Charlie Teo Foundation

It’s not exactly what you’d expect a 10-year-old to be doing on her school holidays: watching experiments involving blood, learning about chemistry and peering over a microscope examining cells. But that’s exactly what cancer researcher, Seray Adams, often found herself doing at that age.

“My mum was a chemist and she often took me to work where she’d teach me about chemistry. I’d watch her do experiments with blood and preparing chemicals,” says Seray.

“My aunty worked in cytogenetics and I was fortunate that she also took me to work where I became fascinated with the field of genetics.”

Experiencing the world of science propelled Seray into a science career, and as a Charlie Teo Foundation More Data Grant recipient, she investigated how disruptions to the immune system potentially contribute to brain cancer growth.

“The activity of certain metabolic pathways in cancer prevents the immune system from maintaining control of cancer growth. One such metabolic pathway which helps the cancer from being detected by the immune system is tryptophan metabolism, also known as the kynurenine pathway. Our research project aimed to understand how this pathway disrupts the immune system and how it potentially contributes to brain cancer growth.”

Seray explains that the role of this pathway in potentially promoting brain cancer growth could help to identify new treatment strategies for treating brain cancer.

The first part of the project involved targeting enzymes which are downstream in the pathway. Their results found that targeting one such enzyme, Kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO), significantly reduced the growth of brain cancer cells.

“We combined the KMO inhibitor drug with the delivery of the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (TMZ). We found this combination more powerful in reducing brain cancer growth than just targeting KMO by itself.”

Pictured: Dr Seray Adams working in the laboratory

The second part of the research has been to analyse brain cancer tissue samples to determine if the specific proteins in the kynurenine pathway can be used as biomarkers to help provide a more accurate diagnosis of brain cancer types and help predict the potential for cancer progression.

“No one has investigated the role of the lower segments of the pathway in brain cancer progression and prognosis. We wanted to determine the clinical relevance of the proteins in the lower segment of the kynurenine pathway in glioblastoma. So far, we’ve characterised seven enzymes in this pathway in glioblastoma patients,” Seray explains.

“So, the main goal of this part of the project is to identify tryptophan metabolism products as biomarkers that can be used as clinically useful tools to complement the more traditional diagnostic markers currently used. This could potentially improve prognostic and diagnostic accuracy. In addition, the research aims to predict the potential for tumour recurrence and its possible progression to a more aggressive tumour type.”

Seray’s research into brain cancer started seven years ago and would have ceased had she not received the More Data grant from the Charlie Teo Foundation.

“Without the support of the Charlie Teo Foundation we would not have been able to continue investigating our project as we had no other source of funding to keep it going. This funding was critical in helping us to achieve our research goals in our kynurenine pathway project. Our research is yielding important insights into understanding how this pathway disrupts the immune system and contributes to brain cancer aggressiveness. We have obtained some promising results that could identify a new immunotherapeutic treatment strategy for rare cancers.”

Seray is passionate about her work and is determined to continue to help brain cancer patients.

“Although there has been great progress in significantly improving patient survival of many other types of cancer, brain cancer survival rates are extremely low and have barely changed in the last 35 years representing one of the most challenging cancers to treat. This is what motivates me, the challenge and opportunity to use research to uncover cancer vulnerabilities and help make improvements in patient survival and potentially find a cure.”

“Any discovery I make in the laboratory, no matter how small, makes me feel I am one step closer to unravelling how brain cancer works. It’s the small but incremental progress we make as researchers that motivates me in the fight against brain cancer.”

Read more about this research project