Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program

Lab head: Des Richardson
Location: D06 - Blackburn Building

Iron is essential for life and growth. While it is well known that iron deficiency can lead to anaemia it is generally not appreciated that iron is critical for the growth of all cells, particularly cancer cells. The Iron Metabolism and Chelation Program is concerned with understanding the basic processes of how tumour cells utilise and transport iron. This knowledge will lead to the development of therapies that can selectively starve tumour cells of iron and inhibit their growth. In addition, we are studying the mechanisms involved in iron loading in the inherited diseases I2-thalassaemia and Friedreich's ataxia.

Lab members: Head: D Richardson; RFellows: D Kalinowski, D Lovejoy, Y Suryo Rahmanto, D Zhang, D Zhang; PFellows: C Austin, K Dixon, P Jansson, Z Kovacevic, D Lane, K Loh, M Lok, P Quach, V Richardson, Y Yu; RAssistant: S Bal, S Chikhani, M Huang, E Lim, P Obeidy, N Pantarat, F Saletta, D Sharp.

Examining the Molecular Mechanisms Behind the Anti-Tumour Activity of NDRG1 in Pancreatic Cancer

Primary supervisor: Des Richardson

Pancreatic cancer is a highly aggressive disease with a poor response to current therapies. A new approach to the treatment of this disease is to target crucial molecules that mediate pancreatic cancer progression. One such molecule, the metastasis suppressor N-myc down-stream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) has been shown to effectively inhibit pancreatic cancer by reducing primary tumour growth, metastasis and angiogenesis. This project will involve examining the molecular functions of NDRG1 to elucidate the mechanisms that are involved in its anti-tumour activity. Moreover, the project will also examine a novel class of anti-cancer agents that are able to markedly up-regulate NDRG1 expression in cancer and may be a potential new therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer treatment. This study will utilize animal models of pancreatic cancer to examine how NDRG1 expression affects other crucial molecules. In addition, a range of experimental techniques including tissue culture, western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry and drug treatments will be performed. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that dictate the anti-tumour function to NDRG1 is crucial for the development of more effect treatments against pancreatic cancer.

Discipline: Pathology
Keywords: pancreatic cancer, Cancer, cellular signalling