<b>Professor Brandon Wainwright</b><br>
IMB Director and Laboratory Head, Genomics of Development and Disease Division<br><p>
P: +61 7 3346 2110<br>
E: b.wainwright@imb.uq.edu.au<p>
<b>Keywords</b><br>
- skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma)<br>
- brain tumours (medulloblastoma and glioblastoma)<br>
- medical research<br>
- scientific leadership
Professor Brandon Wainwright
IMB Director and Laboratory Head, Genomics of Development and Disease Division

P: +61 7 3346 2110
E: b.wainwright@imb.uq.edu.au

Keywords
- skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma)
- brain tumours (medulloblastoma and glioblastoma)
- medical research
- scientific leadership

Tissue repair and cancer

Skin cancer is a major public health issue in Australia, with the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer costing our community more than $264 million each year. Moreover, brain tumours remain the most common cause of cancer related death in children and of these, medulloblastoma is the most commonly diagnosed.

Our laboratory has made great progress in understanding the genetic pathways behind the most common form of skin cancer in Australia, Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), and medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour that occurs predominantly in children.

Having mapped and isolated the Naevoid Basel Cell Carcinoma Syndrome (NBCCS) gene called Patched, which is the driver for a medical condition where affected individuals have a predisposition for developing BCC and medulloblastoma, we were able to identify the Patched gene as a controller of a molecular signalling pathway called the Hedgehog pathway.

The Hedgehog pathway is a set of genetic mutations that contribute to the development of a wide range of tumour types, including lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer. By examining this pathway and how it interacts with other genetic pathways, our scientists have gained a better understanding of the normal development of the skin and cerebellum, a part of the brain that controls motor functions.

By manipulating the strength of the Hedgehog pathway we believe stem cell populations can be expanded or can be induced to become cancerous.

During the past 12 months, we examined the Hedgehog pathway and how it interacts with other genetic pathways to gain a better understanding of the normal development of the skin and cerebellum and the tumours derived from those organs. We also began to use small molecule drugs to examine novel treatments for both medulloblastoma and BCCs of the skin. Translating our research findings in both tumour types will have a significant impact on improving the health of all Australians affected by these diseases.

Next steps

Next steps for our skin cancer research include proving that the cells generated by manipulating the Hedgehog genetic pathway are true stem cells and can repair and regenerate skin after insults such as wounds or burns. By better understanding the relationship between stem cells and skin cancer we will be better positioned to prevent and treat this disease and the findings will likely also provide a paradigm for other cancer types.

Next steps for our medulloblastoma research include proving that we can block tumour growth by manipulating a number of genetic pathways we have linked to the Hedgehog signalling pathway. We hope this will open up a wider range of therapeutic approaches than those currently available for children affected by this disease.

Make a difference to Professor Wainwright's research by donating today.

Research in the news

6 November - Health report: Brain cancer research revolution, 7 News Brisbane

28 October - New hope for kids in cancer fightThe Courier-Mail

Student projects and opportunities

View current Wainwright Lab honours projects.

Key publications

View more publications by Professor Wainwright via PubMed.

Thomas, W.D., Chen, J., Gao, Y.R., Cheung, B., Koach, J., Sekyere, E., Norris, M.D., Haber, M., Ellis, T., Wainwright, B., and Marshall, G.M. (2009). Patched1 deletion increases N-Myc protein stability as a mechanism of medulloblastoma initiation and progression. Oncogene 28: 1605-1615.

Ingram, W.J., McCue, K.I., Tran, T.H., Hallahan, A.R., and Wainwright, B. (2008). Sonic Hedgehog regulates Hes1 through a novel mechanism that is independent of canonical Notch pathway signalling. Oncogene 27: 1489-1500.

Yang, Z.J., Ellis, T., Markant, S.L., Read, T.A., Kessler, J.D., Bourboulas, M., Schüller, U., Machold, R., Fishell, G., Rowitch, D.H., Wainwright, B.J., and Wechsler-Reya, R.J. (2008). Medulloblastoma can be initiated by deletion of Patched in lineage-restricted progenitors or stem cells. Cancer Cell 14: 135-145.

Adolphe, C., Hetherington, R., Ellis, T., and Wainwright, B. (2006). Patched1 functions as a gatekeeper by promoting cell cycle progression. Cancer Research 66: 2081-2088.

Lab contacts

Dr Christelle Adolphe
Research staff
+61 7 334 62051
+61 7 334 62342
c.adolphe@imb.uq.edu.au

Mr Pengxiang Ji
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62342
+61 7 334 62345
pengxiang.ji@uqconnect.edu.au
Professor Brandon Wainwright
Laboratory head
+61 7 334 62110
+61 7 334 62342
b.wainwright@imb.uq.edu.au

Dr Lena Constantin
Research staff
+61 7 334 62051
+61 7 334 62342
l.constantin@imb.uq.edu.au
 

Ms Marija Kojic
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62342
+61 7 334 62345
m.kojic@imb.uq.edu.au
Mr Han-Chung Yee
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62342
p.yee@imb.uq.edu.au
Dr Laura Genovesi
Research staff
+61 7 334 62051
+61 7 334 62342
l.genovesi@imb.uq.edu.au

Dr Alex Koon
Research staff
+61 7 334 62051
+61 7 334 62342
a.koon@imb.uq.edu.au

Ms Kerstin Zoidl
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62342
+61 7 334 62345
k.zoidl@imb.uq.edu.au