Diabetic Complications Group

Lab head: Professor Stephen Twigg
Location: Blackburn Building

This group is headed by  Stephen Twigg and Susan McLennan.

The research conducted by this group addresses a number of key complications associated with diabetes including: diabetic wound healing, neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and diabetic nephropathy, as well as insulin resistance.

A/Profesoor McLennan also has an established interest in thyroid cancer 


Lab members: S Twigg (head), S McLennan (Principal Research Fellow), D. Min (Senior Research Fellow), X Wang ( Post doctoral fellow), C Tam (Post doctoral fellow)

The miRNA profile of papillary thyroid cancer

Primary supervisor: Susan McLennan

Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy and its incidence is increasing worldwide. In New South Wales, thyroid cancer is now the third most common cancer in females aged 15-39 years. In most cases, the initial presentation is a thyroid nodule. Thyroid nodules are, however, common in the general population, with prevalence of 5-20%, and even higher if ultrasound is used. However, the majority of these nodules are benign. The challenge that a doctor faces is how to distinguish the malignant from the benign tumours.

Certain genes such as BRAF are often mutated in papillary thyroid cancer. More recently, changes in the levels of microRNAs (miRNAs), short (19-25 base pairs) RNA sequences which negatively regulate gene expression at the post transcriptional level, have been implicated in various types of cancer. A number of miRNAs have been found to be upregulated in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) (e.g., miR-221, miR-222 and MiR146). Thus, miRNAs could potentially be important diagnostic and prognostic markers of PTC.

The proposed project involves the use of molecular techniques to identify differential expression of genes or miRNAs in cancerous thyroid tissue and corresponding normal thyroid tissue. The role of these genes in cancer progression will be investigated by over expression and inhibition of expression in cell culture models.

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Elizabeth Chua, Michael Elliott, Catherine Woolnough
Keywords: thyroid, miRNA, Cancer