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Fellowship funds major research project on medulloblastoma

Cure for Life FoundationTM has awarded one of the largest single fellowships on brain tumour research in Australia to a senior researcher at Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) for Medical Research in Randwick, NSW.

Dr Wayne Thomas has received a three-year $600,000 Career Development and Support Fellowship to work on medulloblastoma, a solid tumour in the lower brain that occurs in young children. Brain tumours are the most common solid tumours in children and a leading cause of death in children under 9. Twenty percent of brain tumours are medulloblastoma.

The Cancer Institute NSW reviewed applications for this grant and recommended that Dr Thomas receive the Fellowship for brain tumour research.

Dr Thomas will be building on knowledge gained from extensive studies of neuroblastoma, a disease that also affect areas of the central nervous system that he undertook at the CCIA in the Molecular Carcinogenesis Program. Medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma are malignancies of the central nervous system that are thought to originate in the developing embryo.

"Our work on neuroblastoma has given us a better understanding of the molecular processes at work in the emergence of a tumour. This insight will guide us in the search for new therapeutic strategies to inhibit the proliferation of a malignant tumour," said A/Prof Glenn Marshall, Head of the Molecular Carcinogenesis Program.

"At present only 50-60% of children with medulloblastoma survive five years after diagnosis."

The aim is to gain a better understanding of how events prior to birth and early childhood contribute to the emergence of cancer and possibly prevent nervous system cancers before they emerge.

Using laboratory models of medulloblastoma that mirror how the disease behaves in children, Dr Thomas hopes to elucidate the role of the sonic hedgehog (Shh) signalling protein and identify target genes that contribute to the formation
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Contact: Susan Bogle
SBogle@ccia.org.au
61-2-9382-0047
Research Australia
3-Oct-2005


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