PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Diana Hatoum

TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up Recipient: Diana Hatoum TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up Recipient: Diana Hatoum

Breast Cancer Recurrence: The Inadvertent Role of P14ARF-p53 Pathway Activation

Award: Diana is the recipient of a 3-year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisors:  

Dr Rosetta Martiniello-Wilks, Senior Lecturer and Head, Translational Cancer Research Group, Medical & Molecular Biosciences, Faculty of Science, University of Technology, Sydney.

Dr Eileen McGowan, Senior Research Fellow, Translational Cancer Research Group, School of Medical and Molecular Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Technology, Sydney.

Dr Najah Nassif, Senior Lecturer, Translational Cancer Research Group, School of Medical and Molecular Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Technology, Sydney.

The aims of the project are:

  • To identify cellular mechanisms that protect some breast cancer cells from apoptosis (cell death) and cause recurrence following breast cancer treatments that activate the p14ARF-p53 pathway. We observed that fulvestrant (a pure anti-estrogen) could block latent breast cancer recurrence.
  • To identify the efficacy of two or more combined modality approaches in hormone dependent breast cancer cells and to identify mechanisms preventing latency using combined treatment regimes.
  • To assess the prognostic value of combined estrogen receptor and p53 expression as biomarkers for hormone-dependant breast cancer resistance and reccurence.

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What is the translational application of your research?

Local recurrence and metastasis after treatment is a major concern to both breast cancer patients and clinicians and is associated with high morbidity and premature death. Recurrent cancers are usually more aggressive and harder to treat. Over 70% of breast cancer patients present with estrogen receptor positive tumours. Estrogen receptor status predicts response to treatment and survival however it is unclear which cancers will reoccur and which cancers will be successfully treated. Therefore prognostic markers are needed to identify high-risk patients and provide an understanding of the mechanisms that lead to resistance and recurrence. This study will provide evidence to determine if p53 and ER expression predicts poor disease free and overall survival outcome for breast cancer patients. An additional, but not understated, long-term benefit from these studies for the individual, family, and the community is the reduced health care costs associated with long-term care for these patients with chronic breast cancer disease.

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"TCRN will give me the opportunity to communicate my research effectively with other scientists and clinicians. In addition, I believe I will benefit from TCRN through attending the workshops and presentations."

This PhD research has been presented at the following conferences:

  • Regulation of Annexins Through the Activation of the p14ARF-p53 Pathway in Breast Cancer Cells (Poster and short presentation). XXVIX Annual Scientific Research Meeting, 20 -21st November 2012, Kolling Institute, North Sydney, NSW.
  • The Misnomer of Activating p14ARF-p53 for Breast Cancer Therapy (poster and short presentation). 8th Australasian Gene Therapy Society Conference, 8-10th May 2013, Aerial Conference Centre, University of Technology Sydney, NSW. Journal of Gence Medicine (In Press).

Diana Hatoum commenced her first year of PhD studies at the Faculty of Science, School of Medical and Molecular Biosciences, UTS in 2013.