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The Cancer 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 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.

Children's Cancer FoundationMurdoch 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. 

Group Leaders: 
Group Members: 
Dr Francoise Mechinaud
Group Leader
Dr Leah Morenos
Research Officer
Dr Ray Bartolo
Research Assistant
Dr Gabriela Brumatti
Postdoctoral scientist (WEHI)
Dr Jarrod Sandow
Postdoctoral scientist (WEHI)
Nisha Narayan
PhD Student (WEHI)
Dimitra Masouras
PhD student (WEHI)

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.

Children’s Cancer Foundation Clinical Research Fellowship
Dr Seong Lin Khaw, a paediatric oncologist at The Royal Children's Hospital, is the recipient of a $1,370,000 fellowship co-funded by MCRI, the Children’s Cancer Foundation and the Victorian Cancer Agency. With the aid of this generous grant, Dr Khaw is well-placed to develop a ground-breaking research project which will seek to improve the effectiveness of treatment in children with very high risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (VHR-ALL) for whom standard-of-care therapy does not work.