Novel drug combination bullets for improved targeting of oncogenic signaling pathways driving high-risk paediatric cancer


   Centre for Childhood Cancer Research

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

More than 140 children with cancer die in Australia each year due to the occurrence of resistance to traditional chemotherapy. The global effort to understand the molecular basis of high-risk paediatric cancers has unravelled several important signalling pathways frequently genetically altered, including Ras-MAPK, PI3K-Akt-mTOR, cell cycle, and DNA damage response. This has led to the clinical use of drugs targeting selective key players in these pathways such as trametinib inhibiting the Ras-MAPK key player MEK. However, clinical responses to many targeted drugs have been disappointing because of 1) the challenge to accurately predict which patients might benefit from targeted therapies and 2) the occurrence of resistance to single targeted drugs. The current study aims to identify improved predictive biomarkers and combination strategies to overcome resistance for clinically available drugs targeting key oncogenic signalling pathways driving high-risk paediatric cancers. We will make use of the unique resources available through the national Zero Childhood Cancer personalised medicine program, including WGS and RNA sequencing data for >600 tumour samples, in vitro drug response data for >150 tumour samples, and >150 patient-derived models. Biomarker identification and validation will be performed using technologies such as integrative data analysis, phosphoproteomics, and CRISPR gene editing. Novel drug combinations will be identified by in vitro high-throughput combination testing and genome-wide CRISPR screening. Novel discovered biomarker-drug response associations and drug combinations will be validated in vitro and in vivo in patient-derived model systems to guide future clinical trials for paediatric cancer treatment.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

Selected applicants will be offered a placement conditional of their success in obtaining a competitive scholarship covering both their living stipend and UNSW Sydney tuition fees as well as receiving an offer of placement in UNSW Sydney faculty of Medicine course code 1825 childhood cancer.

Register your interest for this project


Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.