The Cancer Research group studies the molecular basis of childhood cancer and how understanding this can be translated into improved diagnostics and treatments.
The laboratory has a long-standing interest in the way cytokines signal in blood cells and how such signals are altered in cancer. Led by A/Professor Ekert, the team are using signalling models to explore how mutations in genes involved in this signalling change the behaviour of cells. This also includes analysis into how cancer genes alter the expression of proteins on the surface of blood cells using advanced proteomic techniques.
The Cancer Research group also has an evolving interest in the genomic changes that occur in cancer cells. They are investigating new ways to identify these changes, including using new sequence techniques to identify balanced translocations.
Murdoch Children's Research Institute acknowledges the longstanding and significant support of the Children's Cancer Foundation in partnership with My Room and the Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation in funding our cancer research. Since 2002 the Children's Cancer Foundation and its funding partners have invested $7 million to support a broad program of childhood cancer research. This support includes research project funding, clinical trial staffing, clinical research training fellowships, and establishment and support of biobanking. In 2004 the Children's Cancer Foundation fully funded the construction and fit out of the Children’s Cancer Centre Laboratory at Murdoch Children's and also purchased vital laboratory equipment which underpins the work of our cancer research teams.
Investigating the cellular and molecular biology of oncogenes and translocations.
The aims of this project are to isolate rare cancer translocations form prospectively banked tumour samples and establish how they effect signal transduction, proliferation and cell death and if they are necessary or sufficient to promote cancer. Several novel mutations and translocations are available for study as the basis of a PhD- please see PhD Student section for more information.
Molecular Cytogenetics of Neuroblastoma – SNP arrays and targeted exome sequencing.
Developing targeted exome sequencing and other techniques for paediatric cancers
This includes the development of a cancer gene panel focused on childhood malignancies and RNA sequencing techniques to identify balanced translocations in paediatric cancer.
Proteomic Biomarkers in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)
We are using advanced proteomic techniques to characterise the proteins on the surface of cancer cells as a pathway to discover new biomarkers and drug targets.
Targeting IAPs in models of paediatric cancer
We are testing a new class of drug, alone and in combination, in preclinical models of cancer, including leukaemia.
- Cancer Screening Recommendations and Clinical Management of Inherited Gastrointestinal Cancer Syndromes in Childhood. 2017
- Cancer Screening Recommendations for Individuals with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. 2017
- Clinical Management and Tumor Surveillance Recommendations of Inherited Mismatch Repair Deficiency in Childhood. 2017
- Disordered clusters of Bak dimers rupture mitochondria during apoptosis. 2017
- Dysregulation of BCL-2 family proteins by leukemia fusion genes. 2017
- Risk assessment in paediatric glioma-Time to move on from the binary classification. 2017
- Use of ubiquitous, highly heterozygous copy number variants and digital droplet polymerase chain reaction to monitor chimerism after allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. 2017
- Cycloheximide Can Induce Bax/Bak Dependent Myeloid Cell Death Independently of Multiple BH3-Only Proteins. 2016
- Disseminated glioneuronal tumors occurring in childhood: treatment outcomes and BRAF alterations including V600E mutation. 2016
- Functionally distinct roles for different miR-155 expression levels through contrasting effects on gene expression, in acute myeloid leukaemia. 2016
- Pain assessment and management in paediatric oncology: a cross-sectional audit. 2016
- Targeting p38 or MK2 Enhances the Anti-Leukemic Activity of Smac-Mimetics. 2016
- The caspase-8 inhibitor emricasan combines with the SMAC mimetic birinapant to induce necroptosis and treat acute myeloid leukemia. 2016
- The molecular relationships between apoptosis, autophagy and necroptosis. 2015
- ER stress does not cause up-regulation and activation of caspase-2 to initiate apoptosis 2014
- RIPK1 regulates RIPK3-MLKL-driven systemic inflammation and emergency hematopoiesis. 2014
- Akt1 is the principal Akt isoform regulating apoptosis in limiting cytokine concentrations 2013
- HoxA9 regulated Bcl-2 expression mediates survival of myeloid progenitors and the severity of HoxA9-dependent leukemia 2013
- Hoxb8 regulates expression of microRNAs to control cell death and differentiation 2013
- Protein kinase activity of phosphoinositide 3-kinase regulates cytokine-dependent cell survival. 2013
- The oncogenic properties of EWS/WT1 of desmoplastic small round cell tumors are unmasked by loss of p53 in murine embryonic fibroblasts. 2013
- Cytokine receptor signaling activates an IKK-dependent phosphorylation of PUMA to prevent cell death 2012
- Evaluation of microRNA expression in patient bone marrow aspirate slides. 2012
- An 11p15 imprinting centre region 2 deletion in a family with Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome provides insights into imprinting control at CDKN1C. 2011
- Heritable GATA2 mutations associated with familial myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. 2011
- High expression of BMP pathway genes distinguishes a subset of atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors associated with shorter survival. 2011
- Myeloid progenitor cells lacking p53 exhibit delayed up-regulation of Puma and prolonged survival after cytokine deprivation. 2010