We’re always very grateful to everyone who supports and helps us in word and deed. Our biggest thanks go to the people who raise support for us with their dedication and philanthropic kindness. For example, Peter Besseling, who’s been road-tripping in a campervan covered in our paua-butterfly, spreading the word about the work of the GMRI. Or Carol Law, who’s organised fundraising events for us at the grass-roots level for the last 10 years.
Authors: Ganeshwaran Shivapathasundram, Agadha C. Wickremesekera, Helen D. Brasch, Reginald Marsh, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang
Frontiers in Surgery. (2018). doi:10.3389/fsurg.2018.00065
Research by the GMRI and others proposes that tumour stem cells are the cellular origin of several benign conditions such as Dupuytren’s disease, infantile haemangioma and meningioma. 25-30% of cranial and spinal tumours are meningiomas.
A collaborative research project involving the GMRI and the Neurosurgery Department of Wellington Hospital has investigated the presence and possible role of these stem cells in the origin and development of meningiomas. Using four independent procedures, five biomarkers of stem cells were identified in 11 different meningiomas. These stem cells were localised to the micro blood vessels in the tumour. The presence of these putative stem cells suggests that they may give rise to the meningiomas.
Authors: Agadha C. Wickremesekera, Helen D. Brasch, Valerie M. Lee, Paul F. Davis, Kelvin Woon, Reuben Johnson, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang.
Journal of Clinical Neuroscience (2019) Volume 60. Pp112 – 116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocn.2018.10.068
Published research undertaken by the team at the GMRI in collaboration with the Neurosurgery Department of Wellington Hospital has shown that cancer stem cells are present in brain tumours that have developed from the spread of melanomas.
Melanoma tumours spreading to the brain occur in up to 30% of melanoma patients and account for up to 8% of all brain tumours.
Cancer stem cells have been shown to be the drivers of the growth of many cancers, including melanoma. Our research has shown that cancer stem cells are present in these metastatic melanomas. In fact, there appear to be three different subpopulations of cancer stem cells, which may be due to a hierarchy of development and/or to heterogeneity of the tumour.
As the GMRI and collaborators have demonstrated for a number of other cancers, the presence of cancer stem cells may be the basis of the growth of this type of brain tumour. Further characterisation of the properties of the cancer stem cells may provide an opportunity to develop an alternative treatment of this type of cancer.
Authors: Shreeja Mehrotra, Susrutha K. Wickremesekera, Helen D. Brasch, Bede Van Schaijik, Reginald W. Marsh, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide with an approximately 50% mortality rate. It metastasises with the liver being the most common secondary site. Up to 70% of the deaths associated with colorectal cancer manifest liver metastasis. Although surgery of the liver has the best outcome for these patients, a procedure following diagnosis is possible in only about 20% of cases.
Three sub-populations of cancer stem cells have been characterised in liver metastasis. These stem cells are thought to be responsible for generating the tumour, tumour differentiation, maintenance, spread and relapse. Components of the renin-angiotensin system are expressed in cancer stem cells. The cathepsin enzymes (B, D and G) digest proteins and so can facilitate the invasion and metastasis of colorectal cancer to the liver. The paper reports the detection of these three enzymes in the stem cells found in liver cancer.
The research team has established the presence of stem cells in strawberry birthmarks (haemangiomas) that are proliferating. This has been determined by confirming the presence of proteins characteristic of these cells. However there is a family of three proteins called STATs that are associated with stem cells which are also known to have a role in the development of red blood cells – an activity known to occur in strawberry birthmarks. These STATs can be modified by the binding of phosphate groups. These phosphorylated proteins can promote the expansion and regulate the development of stem cells.
The role of these modified STAT proteins in strawberry birthmark development has been investigated. All three phosphorylated STATs studied were demonstrated in proliferating strawberry birthmarks but their expressions were reduced in the involuting (shrinking) haemangiomas. The STAT3 variant was the most abundant form. These reductions as the strawberry birthmark involutes reflect a depletion of the stem cells.