Circulating nucleic acid biomarkers for tumour surveilance in Merkel cell carcinoma

Research Opportunity
Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
Clinical Pathology
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Richard Tothill 03 85595712 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Shahneen Sandhu Personal web page

Project Details

MCC is a highly aggressive and often fatal neuroendocrine skin cancer linked to viral infection and excessive sun exposure. The majority of MCC (~65%) present as early stage disease, which nevertheless has an estimated 5-year survival of only 50% meaning that progression is common. Surveillance of disease recurrence is therefore an important part of patient management. Our laboratory has developed a large biomarker study involving the collection of clinically well annotated biospecimens from MCC patients, including blood and tissue samples taken before and during treatment. This mature biobank represents an excellent resource to investigate the potential utility of nucleic acid biomarkers to monitor MCC response to treatment. The honours project will involve the detection of somatic mutations in DNA extracted from blood plasma using targeted massively parallel sequencing. The detection of the tumour DNA in blood will be compared to carefully curated clinical data and FDG-PET imaging in these patients. A potential extension of this work for a masters project would involve the exploration and development of more novel methods for the detection of RNA in blood plasma or serum samples.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cancer in Medicine

Research Opportunities

Masters by Research, Honours
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.


Clinical Pathology

Research Group / Unit / Centre

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