Congratulations to A/Professor Hans Zoellner for his successful ADIA Research Award

18 December 2012

Please join me in offering warm congratulations to Associate Professor Hans Zoellner for his successful ADIA Research Award (see below for details).

Says A/Professor Zoellner: "These grants are to allow characterisation of the extent of protein and messenger RNA exchange between cancer and normal cells, and this will provide the basis for further future studies on the mechanism and clinical significance of this newly discovered cancer cell process. The hope is that once the mechanism is properly understood, it will be possible to develop new treatments blocking exchange between cancer and normal cells, and thus improving the effectiveness of separate already established cancer treatments".

We are grateful to the Australian Dental Research Fund for ongoing support of this work, as well as to the Australian Dental Industry Association for their additional grant recognising A/Professor Zoellner's as the highest scoring ADRF grant for 2012.

Prof Chris Peck

A/Prof Hans Zoellner
A/Prof Hans Zoellner

One of the difficulties in cancer chemotherapy, is that although the treatment may kill most of the cancer cells, there are often just a few rogue cells which are able to escape the treatment and eventually overwhelm the patient. Current understanding is that these rogue cells emerge through accumulation of additional random genetic mutations, but research in the Faculty of Dentistry has unearthed a separate mechanism completely independent of genetic changes.

What students in A/Professor Zoellner's team have discovered, is that cancer cells can swap appreciable amounts of cytoplasm and membrane with neighbouring normal cells, and that this significantly changes the behaviour of the cancer cells as expressed through cell shape and size. Cancer cells are thus shown to acquire properties from normal cells that vary greatly dependent on the amount of material harvested, as well as the activation state of the normal cell at the time of harvesting.

Contact: Denise Fischer

Phone: 02 9351 8300

Email: 7408001916004a3c5b460f04114712100f5d2836347b13522444582c