Top plastic surgeon and stem cell researcher calls GMRI cancer research “extraordinary”

Dr Swee Tan, Professor Wayne Morrison, Mayor Justin Lester, Chair Paul Baines

In August the GMRI was honoured to host top plastic surgeon and stem cell researcher, Professor Wayne Morrison, as part of the GMRI Eminent Speakers’ Programme.

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GMRI to host public lecture by Harvard Medical School expert in vascular birthmarks

Associate Professor Arin Greene

The GMRI is pleased to host a further public lecture in December as part of the GMRI Eminent Speakers’ Programme.

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Capital & Coast District Health Board and the GMRI team up on glioblastoma research

CCDHB neurosurgeon and GMRI Honorary Research Associate, Dr Agadha Wickremesekera

Researchers from the GMRI and neurosurgeons from Capital & Coast DHB have joined forces to tackle glioblastoma (GB), the most aggressive primary cancer of the brain.

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Sharing our research and plans with funders and supporters

Dr Swee Tan, PHARMAC communications manager Kerri Osborne and CEO Steffan Crausaz, Chair Paul Baines

During the past few months the GMRI has welcomed a number of VIP’s to our Newtown laboratories, including Steffan Crausaz, CEO of PHARMAC, CEO of the Health Research Council, Professor Kathryn McPherson, and Singapore-based businessman and innovator Robert Yap.  

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Generous donation from Plimmerton Rotary Club will “supercharge” stem cell research

Club President Graeme Blick, Dr Swee Tan and Dr Tinte Itinteang

In August, GMRI Executive Director Dr Swee Tan and Chief Scientific Officer Dr Tinte Itinteang were guests of the Plimmerton Rotary Club, where they were presented with a significant donation for our cancer stem cell research.

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Embryonic Stem Cell-Like Population in Venous Malformation

Authors: Elysia M.S. Tan, Sam D. Siljee, Helen D. Brasch, Susana Enriquez, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Frontiers in Medicine (Dermatology). October 2017. Doi:10.3389/fmed.2017.00162

Vascular malformations alter arteries, veins, capillaries and lymphatic vessels. The most common of these is venous malformation, which affects about 1% of the population. These malformations are composed of anomalous veins with thin walls and are present at birth but only become apparent later in life.

The cause of this condition is not well understood although a number of possibilities have been proposed. We have identified and characterised stem cells in this condition. The paper reports that there are two populations of these cells, one being part of the lining of the blood vessels, the other outside the lining.

The further characterisation of these primitive cells is the subject of ongoing research in the hope of identifying properties that might provide the opportunity of regulating and controlling them and the consequent development of these malformations.

GMRI to host public lecture by Harvard Medical School expert in vascular birthmarks

Assoc. Prof. Arin Greene

The GMRI is pleased to host a public lecture in December as part of the GMRI Eminent Speakers’ Programme.

The lecture, titled “Vascular Birthmarks: From Bedside to Bench and Back”, will be delivered by Assoc. Prof. Arin Greene, a paediatric plastic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Prof. Greene’s research is primarily focused on vascular birthmarks and lymphoedema. He has authored over 170 research papers and 100 book chapters, and has edited five books.

Dr Swee Tan says it is exciting to host a plastic surgeon and researcher of Prof. Greene’s calibre, and he and colleagues are looking forward to comparing research findings on vascular birthmarks, a field of research that the GMRI is actively involved in.

“As part of Prof. Greene’s visit we will be running a special vascular birthmarks clinic at Hutt Hospital in which we will be seeing patients with complex vascular birthmarks from around New Zealand. This clinic will be attended by specialists and trainees from Hutt Valley DHB and Capital & Coast DHB,” Dr Tan says.

Prof. Greene’s lecture will be held at 5pm Tuesday 5 December at Rutherford House Lecture Theatre, Pipitea Campus, Victoria University of Wellington.

The lecture is open to the public. Seats are limited so if you would like to attend please click here.

Embryonic Stem Cell–Like Population in Dupuytren’s Disease Expresses Components of the Renin-Angiotensin System

Authors: Nicholas On, Sabrina P. Koh, Helen D. Brasch, Jonathan C. Dunne, James R. Armstrong, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Global Open. July 2017 Vol. 5, e1422; doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000001422

Dupuytren’s disease is a chronic fibrotic condition that causes the fingers to bend over. It occurs throughout the world but is particularly prevalent in Northern Europe. Surgery is the most common form of treatment but almost 40% of the cases relapse within five years.

Previously the GMRI identified and characterised embryonic stem cells in Dupuytren’s disease and it was suggested that dysregulation of these cells led to the progression of the disease. This paper has identified the presence of four components of the renin-angiotensin system in Dupuytren’s disease tissue and has located them in the stem cells associated with the microvessels in the tissue. These findings suggest that the stem cells in Dupuytren’s disease could provide a novel method for treatment through modulation of the renin-angiotensin system.

Expression and Localisation of Cathepsins B, D, and G in Two Cancer Stem Cell Subpopulations in Moderately Differentiated Oral Tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Authors: Therese Featherston, Reginald Marsh, Bede van Schaijik, Helen D. Brasch, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Frontiers in Medicine. July 2017. Volume 4, Article 100  doi: 10.3389/fmed.2017.00100


The GMRI has previously demonstrated the putative presence of two cancer stem cell (CSC) subpopulations within moderately differentiated oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (MDOTSCC), which express components of the renin–angiotensin system (RAS).

In this study we investigated the expression and localisation of the proteases cathepsins B, D, and G in relation to these CSC subpopulations within MDOTSCC.

We identified the presence of cathepsins B and D in the CSCs and cathepsin G on what are phenotypically mast cells. The identification of these suggests the presence of bypass loops for the RAS. Consistent with our other findings with respect to the control of the RAS, this represents an additional area of regulation as part of a novel therapeutic target for MDOTSCC.

Renin-angiotensin System and Cancer: A Review

Authors: Matthew J. Munro, Agadha C. Wickremesekera, Paul F. Davis, Reginald Marsh, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Integrative Cancer Science and Therapeutics. March 2017. Vol.4: doi:10.15761/ICST:1000231

There are numerous reports showing that cancer patients who are treated with medications that control the renin-angiotensin system, such as anti-hypertension drugs, have better survival from cancer and a lower risk of developing cancer.

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