We’ve won an international award for our work in Dupuytren’s Disease

Dr Kirin Tan is the co-author of our winning paper.

We’re honoured to receive further recognition of our work in Dupuytren’s Disease — a debilitating condition affecting the hands. Dr Kirin Tan co-authored the winning paper with our team when he was a medical student at Auckland University doing an elective at the GMRI. The paper, titled The Role of Stem Cells in Dupuytren’s Disease: A Review, won the Best Oceanic Paper Award from Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open, a prestigious international journal.

Read More

Matthew Munro: improving patient management

PhD student Matt Munro has identified new markers that could help the management of colon cancer patients.

For a former research technician, Matt Munro says the GMRI has been the perfect place to undertake his PhD. Matt is investigating the role of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and the renin-angiotensin system in colon cancer.

Read More

Erin Paterson: creating a powerful resource

Erin Paterson: ‘Everything I do is working towards the ultimate goal of a better understanding of cancer’.

Erin Paterson coordinates the vital cell culture and tissue banking programme for the GMRI’s primary cell lines. After taking tissues donated by patients to the GMRI and growing cells from them, these cells are used for the GMRI’s research.

Read More

Our interns: specialists in the making

Tessa Pilkington, Claire Luke-Krishnan and Jazmean Williams.

We love working with our interns and fostering the next generation of scientists and medical experts. They contribute to our wide range of research on cancers and other conditions. This year we have had three interns outside of our usual summer studentship programme, with Tessa Pilkington, Claire Luke-Krishnan, and Jazmean Williams joining us for four months. We’ve asked them questions about their internship experience.

Read More

Private donor pledging: your opportunity to make a real difference

By supporting our research, you’ll play a part in making a real difference in the lives of people suffering from cancer. Image byLina Trochez/Unsplash.

Our goals as a charity are not small — the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute exists to reduce human suffering and improve lives. You can help us to achieve our aspirations.

Read More

In our five years we’ve launched two clinical trials

Since the GMRI opened its state-of-the art laboratory facility in Newtown, Wellington, we’ve gained approval for four clinical trials to test our novel cancer treatment based on our discoveries in the lab. We didn’t expect to be here in just five years — we thought it would take much longer. At the recent Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Annual Scientific Congress in Bangkok we heard many comments from colleagues who are excited about our work. They see our approach to cancer treatment as unique and radical.

Read More

Expression of Components of the Renin-Angiotensin System in Pyogenic Granuloma

Authors: Jessica C. Papali’i-Curtin, Helen D. Brasch, Bede van Schaijik, Jennifer de Jongh, Reginald W. Marsh, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Frontiers in Surgery (2019). doi:10.3389/fsurg.2019.00013 
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsurg.2019.00013/full

Pyogenic granuloma is a relatively common benign vascular tumour affecting the skin. Most commonly it occurs as a small red nodule, primarily in the head and neck region, and bleeds repeatedly. Current treatments include surgery, prescription drugs and in some circumstances laser therapy.

Although the pathogenesis of pyogenic granuloma is uncertain, the small blood vessels are immature. We have previously shown that two sub-populations of embryonic stem cell markers are expressed in them.

We have now demonstrated that the renin-angiotensin system is present in these stem cells. This system, which has long been associated with the regulation of blood pressure and fluid balance, can be modulated and controlled with a range of drugs.

The consequence of these findings is that it may be possible to treat pyogenic granuloma by inhibiting the renin-angiotensin system at the origin of the condition.

Expression of Cathepsins B, D and G in WHO Grade I Meningioma

Authors: Rosanna M. A. Rahman, Bede van Schaijik, Helen D. Brasch, Reginald W. Marsh, Agadha C. Wickremesekera, Reuben Johnson, Kelvin Woon, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Frontiers in Surgery (2019). doi:10.3389/fsurg.2019.00006 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsurg.2019.00006/full

One of the most common primary tumours of the central nervous system is meningioma. While surgery is the standard approach for treatment, it is not achievable in 50% of the cases. A better method of management is therefore required.

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute and collaborators have characterised stem cells in meningioma and demonstrated the renin-angiotensin system (RAS)  within these cells. This system is known to promote tumour growth as well as regulate blood pressure.

The RAS can be activated by classical methods involving renin and the prorenin receptor or by an alternative process involving a group of protease enzymes called cathepsins. This paper establishes that two of these cathepsins (cathepsins B and D) are localised to the stem cells in meningioma while cathepsin G is present in cells in the matrix.

We conclude that, if the RAS is to be the basis of a therapy for meningioma, inhibition of these enzymes will need to be part of the treatment.

Expression of Embryonic Stem Cell Markers in Microcystic Lymphatic Malformation

Authors: Elizabeth K. Eady, Helen D. Brasch, Jennifer de Jongh, Reginald W. Marsh, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang
Lymphatic Research and Biology (2019) Doi: 10.1089/lrb.2018.0046
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/lrb.2018.0046

Malformations of the lymph vessels occurs in about 1 in 5,000 infants. It is characterised by slowly increased swelling, frequently in the head and neck area. They are classified as either macrocystic (involving larger lymph vessels) or microcystic (small vessels). These vessels are thin and so prone to leakage. Treatment of the microcystic form is unsatisfactory while sclerotherapy is the preferred treatment for the macrocystic ones.

Some have suggested that these malformations may originate from gene mutations. Others have described progenitor-like cells in them and, as embryonic stem cells have been described in venous malformations, GMRI researchers have proposed that similar stem cells may be present in lymphatic malformations.

Using several techniques, the GMRI team has confirmed the presence of progenitor cells and identified a small population of stem cells in microcystic lymphatic malformations. The implication of this finding is that the possible origin of the condition has been identified and consequently a novel potential approach to treating the condition identified.

Cancer Stem Cells in Liver Metastasis from Colon Adenocarcinoma Express Components of the Renin-Angiotensin System

Authors: Ananatha Narayanan, Susurutha K. Wickremesekera, Bede van Schaijik, Reginald W. Marsh, Helen D. Brasch, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment (2019).5: 36 – 46. Doi:10.20517/2394-4722.2018.77

https://jcmtjournal.com/article/view/3054

Colorectal (colon) cancer accounts for about 10% of all cancers. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in New Zealand.

Colorectal cancer may spread in the body. The liver is the most common site for secondary tumours, with up to 50% of patients developing consequent liver tumours.

The concept of cancer stem cells, the focus of much of the GMRI’s research,  proposes that there is a sub-population of cells within a cancer that have properties similar to embryonic stem cells which are the driving force of the development of the cancer. The paper identifies three sub-populations of these cells, through their distinctive markers, which are shown to be present in liver metastases arising from colon adenocarcinoma.

The GMRI and collaborators have shown that the renin-angiotensin system, which is well-known as a regulator of blood pressure and fluid balance, is associated with stem cells in a range of cancers. There are a number of modulators of this system which are prescribed when it is malfunctioning. The paper demonstrates that this hormonal system is present within the stem cells of metastatic liver cancer.

Our findings suggest that these properties could be used as a novel therapeutic target for treating these liver cancers.