Learning from skeletal muscle to treat cancer

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Number of Master Places Available
1
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Paul Gregorevic pgre@unimelb.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Rachel Thomson

Summary Skeletal muscle is essential for survival. Not only is muscle the vital organ for movement but the diaphragm muscle sustains life by inflating the lungs for breathing. Skeletal muscle is also an endocrine organ that contracts and releases hormones and factors that communicate with other body tissues to sustain life.

Project Details

Skeletal muscle is essential for survival. Not only is muscle the vital organ for movement but the diaphragm muscle sustains life by inflating the lungs for breathing. Skeletal muscle is also an endocrine organ that contracts and releases hormones and factors that communicate with other body tissues to sustain life. Skeletal muscle accounts for half a person’s body mass yet we take for granted its crucial role in our health and lifestyle. Many diseases and conditions are linked with changes in muscle structure and function, including: ageing and frailty; cancer; muscle injury, sepsis and other forms of metabolic stress; nerve injury; disuse through inactivity and microgravity; burns; and different forms of muscular dystrophy. These conditions are major health problems globally and contribute to a large burden of disability and suffering. Tackling these muscle-related health conditions requires a coordinated research effort from discovery biology to understand disease mechanisms and translational approaches to take these discoveries from bench to the clinic. Researchers in the Centre for Muscle Research seek to understand the mechanisms that regulate muscle growth, wasting and metabolism, and to develop new approaches for preventing or treating muscle related conditions, utilising the latest techniques in biology and biomedicine. We also consider skeletal muscle in the context of other diseases, such as heart and cardiovascular diseases, cancer and osteoporosis. We are interested in understanding muscle development and growth, injury and repair, studying the biology and metabolism of muscle stem cells and their commitment to becoming functional muscle fibres. Our researchers design, manufacture and utilise viral vectors to alter gene expression in mouse models of disease and interrogate cellular mechanisms of muscle adaptation, techniques that provide a unique combination of speed, precision and efficacy not achieved through other approaches. The Centre for Muscle Research offers a wonderful training environment for studying muscle biology in health and disease and exceptional career-training opportunities for Honours, Masters and Ph.D. students. 

 

Patients with cancer frequently succumb to complications arising from cachexia - a condition characterised by debilitating loss of functional muscle mass, and adipose tissue. Projects within this theme are examining the mechanisms involved in the development of cachexia, in the hopes of helping to develop new therapeutic strategies. Patients with cancer also frequently succumb to complications arising from metastasis - the spread of tumour cells to other sites distant from the tissue of origin. However, the colonisation of metastatic cancers within muscle is remarkably infrequent, and the mechanisms underlying these discrepancies between muscle and other tissues remain unclear. Projects within this theme will examine why skeletal muscles are resistant to metastatic cancers, to identify new strategies for preventing and treating the development and progression of metastatic cancers.




Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


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