Our research focus

In collaboration with Australian and international researchers, our research team has developed clinically relevant mouse models of breast cancer metastasis which replicate the entire process of metastasis in patients, from development of a primary tumour in the breast to the spontaneous spread of the disease to bone and brain. Key projects in our laboratory use these models to identify “gene signatures” which can predict patients likely to develop metastases in the brain and other sites, and to test the efficacy of various synthetic inhibitors and natural compounds against bone and brain metastasis.

A particular focus of our laboratory is on investigating whether potent integrin inhibitors found in snake venom can be used to overcome resistance to current therapies or to convert aggressive breast cancers into a milder form of the disease, which is more responsive to drugs already used in the clinic such as anti-oestrogens.

Fast facts

A network of large proteins – called extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins – present in virtually all organs. ECM proteins help maintain the integrity and normal functioning of healthy organs. During cancer development, the expression of these proteins and their receptors on cancer cells (called integrins) is altered to promote survival, growth and homing of cancer cells to distant organs.

Cell surface receptors used by cancer cells to attach to matrix proteins and send signals controlling cancer cell survival, growth and movement.

Our team

Meet our researchers