Hunter researchers are examining the resistance of melanoma to chemotherapy in an effort to find new treatments for the disease.
Dr Xu Dong Zhang from Calvary Mater Newcastle, Dr Rick Thorne from the University of Newcastle and Professor Peter Hersey from Calvary Mater Newcastle and the University of Newcastle, have received almost $500,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council for the project.
The Newcastle researchers will focus on a particular part of the cell, called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which sends out signal pathways that control cell survival. When activated for a prolonged period of time, the pathway will kill cells under extreme stress. However, it has previously been established that melanoma cells have developed resistance to the pathways and survive in the body. The new research will investigate whether the melanoma cells’ adaptation to ER stress plays a role in the cancer’s resistance to chemotherapy.
The researchers have also received $300,000 from the Cancer Council NSW for a related project.
Melanoma is a major Australian health problem. It is the most common cancer in males aged 25-54 years and in females aged 15-29 years. In NSW, it is the fourth most common cancer in males and the third most common in females.
Health and medical research at the University is conducted in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). HMRI is a partnership between the University, Hunter New England Health and the community.
(Source: University of Newcastle: February 2009)