Category Archives: Garvan

Publication: CAF hierarchy driven by pancreatic cancer cell p53-status creates a pro-metastatic and chemoresistant environment via perlecan

Thomas R. Cox, Aug 2019

CAF hierarchy driven by pancreatic cancer cell p53-status creates a pro-metastatic and chemoresistant environment via perlecan

We are super excited to announce that our recent work in close collaboration with A/Prof Paul Timpson has just been published in Nature Communications (view the full Open-Access article here)

In this work (which was a large international collaboration), co-led by our team and Paul Timpson’s team (also at the Garvan Institute), we show that remodeling of the stromal  tissue in and around pancreatic tumours may be the key to stopping their spread and improving chemotherapy outcomes.

Cancer cell CAF crosstalk

What we did

We already know that tumours are made up of heterogenous populations of cancer cells with different mutational landscapes. Furthermore, recently, the field has begun to realise that the cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) present in and around the tumour are also a diverse collection of  subpopulations.

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Funding: Cancer Council NSW Project Grant

Thomas R. Cox, Mar 2019

Cancer Council NSW grants for innovative cancer research


Great news! The Matrix & Metastasis Lab been awarded a three-year project grant from Cancer Council NSW to explore a new combination approach to treating pancreatic cancer.

The project will look at how to target the Lysyl Oxidase (LOX) family of enzymes in in pancreatic cancer with the goal of improving outcomes in patients.

Pancreatic cancer has one of the poorest survival rates of all cancer, with only 25% of people surviving one year after diagnosis and only 8% for five years. This project will look at the tissue in and around pancreatic cancers, which can affect how successful chemotherapy treatment is in a patient.

The aim is to combining biology and engineering to generate 3D models that mimic tumours, along with cutting edge imaging technology and mouse models, to investigate the potential of co-targeting the Lysyl Oxidase family together with already approved cancer drugs to improve patient outcome.

Thomas Cox CCNSW Awards Evening

Dr Thomas Cox receiving the award on behalf of the team at CCNSW’s annual Research Awards Evening.

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People: M&M continues to grow…

Thomas R. Cox, Jan 2019

We are looking forward to the imminent arrival of our newest member, Gretel Major who is joining the group this week.

Gretel Major (Matrix and Metastasis Lab)

Gretel is joining us a new Research Assistant (RA) in the Matrix and Metastasis team having recently completed her Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) degree at the University of Wollongong under the mentorship of Prof. Marie Ranson.

Gretel joins us to work on our different projects underway looking at the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in cancer progression, and is particularly interested in developing her translational research skills.


Publication: The extracellular matrix as a key regulator of intracellular signalling networks

Thomas R. Cox, Jan 2019

The extracellular matrix as a key regulator of intracellular signalling networks

Our latest review in collaboration with Dr. David Croucher  and Dr. Dirk Fey on ‘The extracellular matrix as a key regulator of intracellular signalling networks‘ has just been published as part of a special series on ‘Translating the Matrix’ in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Extracellular matrix interplay with MAPK-JNK Signalling

Computational model of the interplay between the ECM and drug activated MAPK‐JNK signalling network.

At their simplest, cells follow a set of rules governed by their genetic code. These rules, which are executed by the protein‐based signalling networks that the genes encode, control the assimilation of information and decision‐making processes that shape a cell’s response to their surroundings.

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People: New starter for M&M

Thomas R. Cox, Oct 2018

We’re pleased to welcome our newest Animal Technician Michelle Yam to the team. Michelle is returning home to Australia having worked at West Virginia University in the US.Michelle Yam (Matrix and Metastasis Lab)

Michelle joins us and will take care of the welfare and maintenance of the animals used in our cancer research program to ensure we conform to the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes and the New South Wales Animal Research Regulations.

People: Introducing our first PhD Student – Michael Papanicoloau

Thomas R. Cox, Sep 2018

Michael Papanicoloau - Matrix and MetastasisThe lab is excited to be welcoming our first Ph.D. student Michael Papanicoloau who has just started in the lab. Michael joins us after completing his Honours degree in Biomedical Science at UTS and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

Having been awarded a prestigious UTS Research Excellence Scholarship, Michael’s Ph.D. will focus on understanding how the extracellular matrix changes over time in solid tumours, in particular breast cancer, and how these changes feed into the pathological progression of the disease at both primary and secondary sites.


Publication: Removing physiological motion from intravital and clinical functional imaging data

Thomas R. Cox, Jul 2018

Removing physiological motion from intravital and clinical functional imaging data

Galene is a new tool just published in eLife that can correct for physiological motion in live imaging data post-acquisition.

Galene Motion Correction Software

eLife digest

Understanding how molecules and cells behave in living animals can give researchers key insights into what goes wrong in diseases such as cancer, and how well potential treatments for these diseases work. Continue reading

Publication: Charting the unexplored extracellular matrix in cancer

Thomas R. Cox, Apr 2018

Charting the unexplored extracellular matrix in cancer

Our new review on the recent advances in mapping the extracellular matrix in cancer has just been published in the International Journal of Experimental Pathology.

Composed of hundreds of different building blocks, the extracellular matrix (ECM) makes up the complex, highly cross‐linked, three‐dimensional (3D) network of macromolecules (proteins, glycoproteins and its subgroup of proteoglycans, polysaccharides (glycosaminoglycans), elastins and carbohydrates) that surround cells. It is essential to correct organisation and function of all tissues and organs, yet we know remarkably little about the assembly and organisation of these supramolecular structures of the ECM. In this review we discuss some of the recent advances and technologies that are helping us delve deeper into the matrix and further our understanding of the impact that dysregulated ECM has in diseases such as cancer.

IJEP Charting the unexplored extracellular matrix in cancer

Extracellular matrix building blocks

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People: Jessica joins M&M

Thomas R. Cox, Dec 2017

Jessica Chitty (Matrix and Metastasis Lab)I’m delighted to announce that Jessica Chitty will shortly be joining the lab as a postdoctoral research fellow. Jessica has just completed her Ph.D at the University of Queensland and is making the move south to join our team.

Having completed a degree in Biochemistry in the UK, and her Ph.D in Australia, Jessica brings experience in investigating the translational repurposing of key anti-cancer/antimycotic targets, along with significant expertise in enzyme biochemistry and molecular biology in the context of rational drug design, focusing towards translational research.

Jessica will focus her work on our ongoing interest into the lysyl oxidase family of enzymes and their role in pancreatic cancer.