Student Projects

Improving survival for adult brain cancer patients by targeting ‘sleeping’ cancer stem cells

Project Supervisor/s

Multiple projects available to suit Honours or PhD students

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common malignant primary brain tumour in adults and is inevitably fatal, with a median survival of just 15-months after diagnosis. Standard treatment involves surgical resection, postoperative radiation and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, significant populations of resistant glioma stem cells remain after chemotherapy, these cells regrow the tumour, and patients ultimately succumb to the illness. Glioma stem cells resist treatment in part because they are in a state of cellular sleep, known as quiescence. The quiescence of glioma stem cells means they divide very rarely, whereas current chemotherapy preferentially targets fast-dividing tumour cells. A common strategy in cancer research is to combine chemotherapy with drugs that slow tumour growth. However, this approach often increases the resistance of tumours as it forces more cells into quiescence. The innovative research program Dr Harris is developing is to target quiescent GSCs by leveraging unique features of quiescence and turning them into therapeutic vulnerabilities.

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