Research highlights

Treating osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that most frequently afflicts teenagers. Current treatments fail to cure over a third of osteosarcoma patients, and they can cause serious side effects. Better and safer therapies are urgently needed. PhD student Tanmay Shekhar and Dr Christine Hawkins found that a new class of cancer drugs called IAP antagonists could sensitise osteosarcoma cells to destruction by TNFα, a chemical messenger produced by immune cells. Their findings, published in Oncotarget, suggest that particular IAP antagonist drugs may be effective anti-osteosarcoma agents. Find out more about osteosarcoma.

Tumour environment and cancer progression

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) – a process whereby cells lose their organisational and adhesion properties – plays a critical role in cancer progression and early metastasis. Dr David Greening and Professor Richard Simpson have discovered cell components that signal EMT and promote tumour growth. Their findings, published in Scientific Reports, provide new insights into how the tumour environment can affect cancer progression.

Colorectal Cancer Atlas

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer affecting people in Australia, with about 17,000 people diagnosed every year. PhD student David Chisanga, Dr Shivakumar Keerthikumar and Dr Suresh Mathivanan have developed the Colorectal Cancer Atlas, an integrated web-based resource that catalogues scientific data on bowel cancer. The Atlas allows researchers to analyse a diverse range of material – everything from patient samples to cell lines – to advance our understanding of the development and progression of the disease.