Top image

Thomas Johnson: YB-1: A central player in the carcinogenesis and malignant behaviour of malignant pleural mesothelioma

RESEARCH TYPE
T1
PROGRAM
Flagship 3 Scholarships & Awards
TAGS
    Biomarkers
    Mesothelioma
STATUS
In Progress

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive, asbestos-induced malignancy that responds poorly to treatment. The combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed, which is the current standard of care, provides a response rate of not more than 40 percent and an average survival of approximately 12.1 months. The last decade of pre-clinical research has flagged many potential molecular and immune-based targets, however, apart from hope generated by early clinical studies with checkpoint inhibitors no major breakthroughs are noted. Additionally, while the evidence correlating asbestos exposure and MPM incidence is irrefutable, little is known about the mechanisms of carcinogenesis after asbestos exposure. Due to the delayed development of MPM after asbestos exposure (20 - 50 years), patients are frequently unfit to undergo biopsy collection, limiting the number of clinically relevant biomarkers available. This lack of robust, clinically relevant biomarkers and applicable therapeutic targets make MPM a significant hurdle to overcome.

The Y-box binding protein -1 (YB-1) is a multifunctional cold-shock domain protein that has been linked to all of the hallmarks of cancer. Heightened YB-1 expression has been associated with poorer prognosis and advanced tumour grade in several cancers, where it plays important roles in cell growth, invasion and drug resistance. The overall aim of this research is to characterise the role of YB-1 in MPM.

Scholarship Awarded:

  • Name: Thomas Johnson
  • Member Group: Asbestos Disease Research Institute
  • Year and Duration: 2018 for two years
  • Amount: Top Up $39,400

 

Q&A with Thomas

Why did you decide to undertake a PhD in this area?

I completed my Honours year at ADRI, which made me realise my passion for research, so it felt natural to continue the project and start at PhD. I've been kindly supported by the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia for my PhD. Through this relationship, I have met many people directly and indirectly affected by the widespread use of asbestos in Australia, which has further reinforced the importance of the work I am doing.

Why will this investigation be important in the field of translational research?

There is little research being done on malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in Australia. Current treatments only provide MPM patients with median survival of 12.1 months, making it one of the most aggressive malignancies known. My project investigates the role of YB-1, a potent oncoprotein, in the malignant behaviour of MPM. While my project sits at the T1 end of the spectrum, it promises to broadly impact the T2T3 spaces in the future through the discovery of a clinically relevant biomarker and novel therapeutic target.

How do your friends and family feel about your PhD? Do they understand what you do?

My parents are medical doctors so they are keen to keep up to date on what I am doing, so I often give them updates on my work. Although my girlfriend and some of my friends don't work in science, they are always interested in what I do and listen to my science talk.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

Skiing in Canada or diving in Indonesia!

You might also be interested in...

  • T1,T2
    Andrew Law: Understanding Molecular Mechanisms of drug Resistance At Single Cell Resolution Using Biomimetic Tissue Engineering
    Acquired drug resistance of cancer cells is one of the major challenges in having successful cancer treatment. Despite the advances of our understanding in cancer, the mechanisms and effects o...
      Treatment
  • T1
    Ashleigh Parkin: From mice to men: biomarker driven classification of pancreatic cancer to define novel targetable molecular subtypes
    Due to the extremely poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer, and current therapies only being marginally effective, there is an urgent need to develop novel therapeutic strategies. This study aim...
      Biomarkers
      Personalised medicine
      New therapies and diagnostics
  • T1
    Aster Pijning: Mechanisms of evasion of innate immunity in ovarian cancer
     |  This project aims to understand the role of a protein called ERp57, which is expressed by ovarian cancer cells, in the suppression of a part of the innate immune ...
      Urogenital
  • T1
    Ben Kong: Towards a therapeutic vaccination for glioblastoma multiforme
    The ultimate objective of Ben's research is to create an effective dendritic cell based vaccine for glioblastoma multiforme by exploiting knowledge of DC biology to find the optimum combinatio...
      Dendritic cell
      Immunotherapy
  • T1
    CINSW RIGs and REGs
    The CINSW Research Equipment and Infrastructure Grants Program is directed to providing substantial funding for key research platforms, core equipment and capacities to enhance the cancer rese...
      Research Equipment
      Research Infrastructure
      CINSW
  • T1
    Claire Vennin: Preclinical targeting of the extracellular matrix to improve chemotherapy and reduce metastasis in patient-stratified models of pancreatic cancer using innovative imaging technologies
    A major challenge in cancer research is to understand and counteract mechanisms of drug resistance. This project will (1) shed light on the role of the ECM in chemoresistance and (2) guide the...
      Biomarkers
      New therapies and diagnostics
  • T1
    David Croucher: Mapping and manipulating therapeutically induced JNK network architecture to tackle breast cancer chemoresistance
    The current generation of cancer therapies mostly target components of signalling pathways, being either small molecule inhibitors or monoclonal antibodies to cell surface receptors. It is fas...
      Breast Cancer
      Chemo resistance
  • T1,T2
    David Thomas: Molecular Screening and Therapeutics Program (MOST)
    The rapid advance in genomic technologies presents the unprecedented opportunity to molecularly phenotype cancers and link genetic information to therapeutic opportunities for individual patie...
      Genetics/genomics
      Personalised medicine
      New therapies and diagnostics
  • T1
    Fast Linear Laser Scanning Technology: The ZEISS LSM 800 Confocal Microscope for the Open Access, Bosch Institute Advanced Microscopy Facility
    Funding was awarded for revolutionary technology, the ZEISS LSM 800 confocal microscope with Airyscan, for the Open-Access, Multi-User Bosch Institute Advanced Microscopy Facility (AMF) at the Uni...
      CINSW Research Equipment Grant
  • T1
    Hayley Suen & team: Restoring the Function of Clonal Cytotoxic T cells in Multiple Myeloma to Develop Novel Therapies and Define the Antigenic Landscape
    Multiple myeloma is an incurable disease so new treatments are required to provide a cure for patients. An attractive form of treatment is the use of a patient's own T cells to fight their can...
      Immunotherapy
      New therapies and diagnostics
      Myeloma
  • T1
    Helen McGuire: Development of a novel test to predict clinical response to checkpoint therapy in lung cancer and mesothelioma
    Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy has provided new hope to cancer patients whose tumours have resisted conventional therapy. One of the most recent success stories has been effective treatmen...
      Immunotherapy
      New therapies and diagnostics
      Lung cancer
      Mesothelioma
  • T1
    Jarem Edwards: Identification & Development of efficacious alternative immunotherapies for melanoma patients resistant to current anti-PD1 and anti-CDLA-4 treatments
    Melanoma is Australia's national cancer and the most deadly cancer in young Australians. Despite the success of anti-PD1/anti-CTLA-4 therapy in advanced stage melanoma, the majority of patient...
      Skin cancer
  • T1
    Jeff Holst & team: Targeting glutamine metabolism to starve triple-negative breast cancer
    Jeff's team are studying nutrient pumps that bring the amino acid glutamine into cancer cells. They have discovered that these pumps are increased in triple-negative breast cancer, a subset tha...
      Cancer metabolism
      New therapies and diagnostics
      Breast Cancer
  • T1,T2
    Julius Kim & team: Systematic effects of Gioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and GBM-released extracellular vesicles on immune suppression
    Despite recent improvements in cancer therapies, the median survival for patients with brain tumours is only 15 months. We need to urgently develop better treatment options. Anti-tumour vaccin...
      Dendritic cell
  • T1
    LC-PLAT - Lung Cancer Cohort - a Platform to Study Serial Biospecimens and Matched Clinical Data
    The project aimed to optimise a platform for the collection of serial lung cancer tissue and blood biospecimens for research during routine clinical practice. Prospective biobanking and collection...
      Lung cancer
      Biobanking
  • T1
    Lorraine Chantrill and team: IMPACT Trial
    Individualized Molecular Pancreatic Cancer Therapy (IMPaCT) aimed to improve outcomes for patients with advanced pancreas cancer by using molecular analysis of tumor tissue to guide treatment ...
      Personalised medicine
      Clinical Trials
      Pancreatic cancer
      Treatment
  • T1
    Magdalena Budzinska: Discovering Novel Non-Invasive Diagnostic and Prognostic Markers in Hepatocellular Carcinoma
    Magdalena's research addresses the urgent need in HCC management for markers that predict HCC propensity and behaviour. It has the potential to be translated into clinical practice at the level...
      Biomarkers
      New therapies and diagnostics
  • T1
    Mark Larance: Nutrient Deprivation and the Protective Proteome for the Prevention of Disease
    Cancer is a major cause of illness and death in Australia. Key risk factors for colorectal cancer and many other cancer types are poor diet, obesity and age. In animals, short periods of nutrie...
      Cancer metabolism
      Colorectal cancer
      Proteomics
  • T1,T2
    Megan Barnet: Genetic biomarkers for predicting response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer
    The 5-year survival for patients treated with anti-PD-1 in NSCLC is ~16%. We currently have no reliable tool for predicting who will benefit from this relatively tolerable single drug, and who ...
      Biomarkers
      Genetics/genomics
      Immunotherapy
      Lung cancer
  • T1,T2
    Natalia Pinello: RNA 5-hydroxymethylation in Haemopoiesis and Leukaemia
    My project will characterise the role of RNA modifications in normal bone marrow development and acute myeloid leukaemia, focusing on understanding how epigenetic drugs work and exploring new ...
  • T1,T2
    Peter Luk & team: Understanding the Body's Response to Cancer Invasion and Progression
      Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC; skin cancer) is the most common human cancer with the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Australia has the highest rate of cSCC i...
      Head and Neck Cancer
  • T1
    Philip Hogg: ACRF Centenary Cancer Research Centre
    The goal of the ACRF Centenary Cancer Research Centre is to understand the link between diet, metabolism and tumour initiation and development at a molecular level, and to design new therapies usi...
      Cancer metabolism
      New therapies and diagnostics
  • T1,T2
    Philip Hogg: Measure of thrombotic risk in cancer patients
    Thrombotic events are a major cause of death in cancer patients and are associated with worsened short‐term and long‐term survival. Prof Hogg and his team developed a new diagnostic test for ...
      Thrombosis
  • T1
    Roger Bourne & team: Gold-standard assessment of prostate cancer MRI accuracy
    A recent health economics analysis identified doctors' lack of confidence in prostate MRI as a major inhibitor to increased choice of active surveillance for low risk prostate cancer. Furthermore,...
      Imaging
      Urogenital
      Prostate
      MRI
  • T1
    Sarah Sutherland: Novel targets for a new generation of therapeutic cancer vaccines
    DC vaccines are well tolerated and can induce an anti- tumour immune response. Current vaccine strategies use in vitro generated "DC" which are loaded with antigen, stimulated and transfused back ...
      Dendritic cell
      Immunotherapy
      Urogenital
  • T1
    Sonia Yip: Biobanking - Patient and healthcare Professional Attitudes and Experiences of universal consent (B-PPAE)
    The Biobanking Qualitative Evaluation Project was initially developed to explore patient and health professional views of universal consent for biobanking procedures. It was later expanded to ...
      Lung cancer
      Biobanking
      Consent
  • T1,T2,T3
    Sydney Catalyst Scholarships Awarded pre July 2016
    We aim to encourage training and development of outstanding researchers and clinicians from within Sydney Catalyst units, who have the potential to develop highly significant ca...
      Scholarships
  • T1,T2,T3
    Sydney Catalyst: Embedding Research in Cancer Healthcare (EnRICH)
      The EnRICH program is a prospective clinical cohort of 1000 patients with lung cancer, which aims to better define, treat and care for patients in Sydney Catalyst member hospitals...
      Epidemiology and health services research
      Implementation research
      Knowledge translation
      Lung cancer
  • T1,T2,T3
    Tahlia Scheinberg: Implications of Homologous Recombination Deficiency defects in Advanced Prostate Cancer
    Up to 12% of men with metastatic prostate cancer carry a mutation in a gene that predisposes to cancer, independent of age at diagnosis or family history of cancer. The nCCN guidelines have re...
      Prevention and Early Detection
      Urogenital
      Prostate
  • T1
    The Next Wave of Cancer Genomics: Resolving Complex Structural Variants and Tumour Heterogeneity with Linked Short-Read
    Large genomic structural rearrangements are just important as short mutations in cancer pathogenesis. However, these critical events are often missed by conventional sequencing technologies. The f...
      CINSW Research Equipment Grant
  • T1
    Thomas Cox: Biomechanical priming of organotropism in metastasising breast cancer cells
    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer occurred among women worldwide in 2012. We already know that ti...
      Breast Cancer
      Tissue stiffness
      Metastasis