Gene Regulation & Translational Medicine

Professor Sudha Rao

Group Leader

Though all genes exist within every cell in the human body, only a defined gene expression program is executed at any time via reprogramming of the epigenome in response to environmental cues. These dynamic events are elegantly orchestrated by writer and eraser enzymes; generating a ‘histone code’ within the epigenetic landscape of genes.  The therapeutic implications of targeting novel domains of epigenetic enzymes are beginning to be appreciated in immuno-oncology.

The laboratory’s focus on immune-oncology is on metastatic cancers and potential implications for viral therapy and the immune response in the aged population. We are also addressing the potential implications for the utility of epi-therapy in combination with immunotherapy and chemotherapy for a variety of metastatic cancers. My team is in the process of developing sensitive liquid biopsies using our newly identified novel biomarkers for patient responsiveness to immunotherapy in the context of the tumour microenvironment. We are also in the process of developing clinical based epigenetic platforms for drug screening and biomarker discovery in collaboration with global technology partnerships.

CURRENT RESEARCH

  • cancer recurrence and the key role of the LSD1 epigenetic enzyme
  • phase 1B clinical trial for combination epigenetic inhibitors with chemotherapy in the context of metastatic stage IV breast cancer (sponsored by EpiAxis Therapeutics)
  • epigenetic regulation by PKC-q in human breast cancer stem cells
  • uncovering the epigenetic landscape that regulates human transcriptional memory
  • examining the epigenetic role of PKC-Beta in regulating the expression of key immune response genes in immune cells
  • unravelling epigenetic mechanisms in the context of circulating tumour cell biology (CTCs) derived from patient liquid biopsy
  • uncovering the epigenetic landscape of Brain metastasises and primary brain cancer
  • liquid biopsy biomarker study based to identify epigenetic biomarkers of immunotherapy responsiveness / resistance cancer
  • biomarker study to develop a multicomponent diagnostic screen for the epigenetic profiling of T cells in patients living with HIV

Staff

  • Dr Robert McCuaig, Research Officer
  • Dr Sherry Tu, Research Officer
  • Dr Amanda Bain, Research Officer
  • Jenny Dunn, Research Assistant
  • John Vandermeide, Honours Student
  • Zhane Anderson, Honours Student
  • Dr Thiru Prasanna, PhD Student & Oncologist

Collaborators

  • Professor Howard Gurney, Macquarie University Hospital
  • Professor Desmond Yip, Canberra Hospital
  • Dr Laeeq Malik, Canberra Hospital
  • Professor Jane Dahlstrom, Canberra Hospital
  • Dr Thiru Prasanna, Canberra Hospital
  • Hodo Haxhimolla, National Capital Private Hospital
  • Professor Anthony Kelleher, University of NSW
  • Professor David Jans, Monash University
  • Professor Gareth Denyer, University of Sydney
  • Professor Rik Thompson, Queensland University of Technology
  • Professor Stephen Turner, Monash University
  • Professor Nicole La Gruta, Monash University
  • Professor David Pyne, University of Canberra/Australian Institute of Sport
  • Professor Gordon Waddington, University of Canberra/Australian Institute of Sport
  • Dr David Hughes, Australian Institute of Sport
  • Professor Jade Forward, Charles Sturt University
  • Dr Sayed Ali, St John of God Midland Public Hospital, Perth
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Australian Research Council
  • EpiAxis Therapeutics
  • Discovery Translation Fund (ANU Connect Ventures)
  • Melanie Swan Memorial UC Cancer Foundation
  • Cancer Council (ACT)
  • Canberra Hospital Private Practise Funds (Partnership between Professor Rao and the Canberra Hospital)
  • Philanthropic funding