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Targeting protein production as a selective therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Less than half of the children with high-risk neuroblastoma survive their cancer. More selective and effective treatments are therefore needed. Some of the worst cases of neuroblastoma are driven by amplification of the MYCN oncogene, but direct targeting of MYCN has so far not been possible. We have identified the translation factor ABCE1 as a direct target of MYCN that is expressed at particularly high levels in the worst cases of neuroblastoma. Moreover, ABCE1 is essential for the growth and spread of high-risk neuroblastoma cells but not for survival of normal cells. We plan to exploit this discovery by developing a therapeutic against ABCE1 and thereby provide a safe and effective therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma and potentially other cancers that depend on this factor.

This work aims to:
1) Identify small molecule inhibitors of ABCE1 using high-throughput screening of a library of compounds pre-selected by in silico screening
2) Determine the precise mechanism of action of ABCE1 in MYC-driven protein synthesis
3) Test whether other myc-dependent or MYCN-dependent cancers also depend on ABCE1
4) Examine the role of the related MYCN-driven translation factor ABCF1 in the malignant characteristics of neuroblastoma

PhD students at Children’s Cancer Institute are enrolled through the UNSW Faculty of Medicine, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Centre for Childhood Cancer Research (Program code 1825, Childhood Cancer).

Funding Notes

Students must obtain a scholarship that will cover living expenses and tuition fees.
For information on the UNSW application process (including scholarships) visit View Website
Additional support
A top-up supplementary award of $6,000 per annum to students who have been awarded a competitive scholarship. This will be awarded to students where the scholarship is equivalent to an Australian Postgraduate Award (RPA) or University Postgraduate Award (UIPA).
The Josee Hilton PhD Excellence Award is a competitive top up scholarship of $10,000 per annum offered to our top ranking new PhD student annually.

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