PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Sylvia Chung

Student Profile: Sylvia ChungTCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up awardee Sylvia Chung

Evaluation of a tumour metabolism inhibitor for the treatment of Glioblastoma ("GBM")

Award:  Sylvia is the recipient of a three-year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisors:  Dr Kerrie McDonald, Senior Research Fellow, Lowy Cancer Research Centre and Prince of Wales Clinical School and Professor Philip Hogg, Director, Lowy Cancer Research Centre.

The overall aim of the thesis is to perform pre-clinical evaluation for the efficacy of tumour metabolism inhibitors for Glioblastoma (GBM). 

The specific aims will be to perform:

  • In vitro testing of tumour metabolism inhibitor PENAO on GBM commercial cell lines as well as primary glioma neural stem cells obtained from GBM patients diagnosed with primary and recurrent tumour. 
  • In vivo GBM mouse brain tumour models will be used to evaluate drug efficacy and optimal dose.
  • In vivo GBM mouse brain tumour models will then be used to test the potential of PENAO in combination with standard chemotherapy.


What is the translational application of your research?

Despite undeniable progress in the care and the treatment of primary brain tumours, for most patients diagnosed with GBM there is no realistic possibility of cure or even long term survival. Inherent resistance to conventional chemotherapy and irradiation are characteristic of GBM.  Currently, there are no new clinical trials being conducted for GBM patients, therefore, the testing of new potential anti-tumorigenic drugs is essential.  PENAO, (4-(N-(S-penicillaminylacetyl)amino)phenylarsonous acid) is a mitochondrial toxin that inactivates inner-membrane adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) resulting in proliferation arrest and apoptosis of tumor and tumor-supporting cells.  With the efficacy already observed with PENAO in other cancers, including Pancreatic and Ovarian cancers, the potential of this drug for the use in GBM may allow us to provide hope for GBM patients of the future.


“The Translational Cancer Research Network has been a great infrastructure to nurture those wanting to gain knowledge and expertise in translational research by educating us on aspects which would strengthen our abilities to apply our research for translational purposes.  They have so far been very informative in teaching us to design our experiments that will suit cancer consumers as well as provided critical analysis of public presentations allowing us to enhance our communicational skills.  I foresee that TCRN has the ability to aid and accompany us through our PhD endeavours by supporting us with the professional help that all dedicated students would benefit from to succeed.”

Published Abstracts of this PhD research:

  • Neuro-Oncology (Volume 14) Supplement 3, 2012.  Abstracts from the 10th Congress of EANO, Marseille, France, Sept 6-9.
  • American Association for Cancer Research, Annual Meeting, Proceedings, Volume 54, April 2013, Washington, DC.”

Sylvia Chung commenced the first year of her PhD studies at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW in 2012.