Understanding metastatic breast cancer by single cell transcriptomics

2021 Honours opportunity

Supervisor: Dr Bhupinder Pal

Laboratory: Cancer Single Cell Genomics

Subjects prerequisites:MED3LAB, MED3PRJ and/or GEN3LAB


Metastatic breast cancer refers to a disease that has spread beyond the breast and regional lymph nodes to distant sites, with variable locations and volumes of organ involvement. Targeting metastatic breast cancer cells is proving difficult due to the molecular heterogeneity that arise from different factors including the cell of origin, somatic mutations in breast cancer susceptibility genes, and genetic alterations including mutations, deletions, fusions or amplifications of key genes. Cancer cells that escape and seed at new sites usually undergo molecular changes in their genetic and epigenetic landscape. Furthermore, the tumour microenvironment can also influence cancer cell survival, treatment outcome and cancer metastasis.

The technological advancements in the field of single cell biology has allowed the study of molecular heterogeneity in mixed cell populations and shed light on cell lineage relationships. Our work has revealed variable heterogeneity in breast cancer cells and identified novel cell clusters in breast tissue.

The primary objective of this project is to gain novel molecular insights into aggressive and drug resistant breast cancers. We will use high-throughput single cell transcriptomic/genomic analysis approach to study clinical samples from breast cancer patients undergoing treatment. Expected outcome: 1) Understand the role of tumour cell heterogeneity in promoting cancer disease. 2) identify specific immune/stromal gene signatures that can predict metastatic resurgence. 3) discover biomarkers associated with metastatic progression. Novel biomarkers will be evaluated utilising breast cancer patient derived xenografts and organoid assays.


How do I apply?
Please complete and return your Ranked Entry Project Selection Form (available in the 2021 projects bookletby 5pm Friday 6 November 2020 to I.Poon@latrobe.edu.au

How do I find out more?
Discover more about La Trobe University’s School of Molecular Sciences/LIMS Honours opportunities
Contact the LTU Honours Coordinator, Dr Ivan Poon
Phone: 03 9479 6488
E-mail: I.Poon@latrobe.edu.au