Category Archives: Garvan

Publication: CAF Subpopulations: A New Reservoir of Stromal Targets in Pancreatic Cancer

Thomas R. Cox, Oct 2019

CAF Subpopulations: A New Reservoir of Stromal Targets in Pancreatic Cancer

Working together with A/Prof Paul Timpson’s lab, we are pleased to announce that our recent review on targetting CAFs in pancreatic cancer has just been published in Trends In Cancer.

In this work we explore how different aspects of CAF heterogeneity are defined and how these manifest in multiple cancers, with a focus on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

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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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People: Amelia joins the team

Thomas R. Cox, Aug 2019

It’s with great excitement that we welcome our newest PostDoc to the team, Amelia Parker.

ameparAmelia joins us having returned from a PostDoctoral position at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA. Prior to this she completed her Ph.D. in the laboratories of Professor Maria Kavallaris and A/Prof Joshua McCarroll at The Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) in Sydney.

As a biomedical engineer and cancer biologist, Amelia is interested in the importance of the tumour microenvironment, and in particular the extracellular matrix (ECM) in driving tumour progression.

Amelia’s work will focus on the importance of the ECM in Lung Cancer onset and progression.

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: Tumor endothelial marker 8 promotes cancer progression and metastasis

Thomas R. Cox, Jul 2018

Tumor endothelial marker 8 promotes cancer progression and metastasis

Our new paper has just been published in Oncotarget. In this study, we show that Tumor endothelial marker 8 (TEM8) regulates the expression of multiple genes. In particular, we observed that the most common expression changes conserved between breast and colorectal cancer are involved in regulation of the cell cycle. In line with the microarray results we show that TEM8 regulates cancer cell proliferation and primary tumor growth. Since TEM8 KO tumors presented with fewer blood vessels we hypothesize that TEM8 contributes to the regulation of angiogenesis, likely by being secreted by cancer cells to alter endothelial cell migration and thereby supporting growth of the tumor. Moreover, we confirm that TEM8 is an important player in driving tumor cell invasion and metastatic dissemination in breast cancer.

Tumor endothelial marker 8 promotes cancer progression and metastasis

Proposed mechanism behind the impact of TEM8 on breast and CRC cancer progression.

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