Cytoskeletal regulation of adhesion dynamics in neuroblastoma metastases

Recipient: Associate Professor Geraldine O'Neill
Institute: The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Funding: $500,000 July 2010 to June 2016

By addressing the key underlying cause of mortality from neuroblastoma, this study will expose new pathways for targeting therapies.

Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumour in children and despite advances in treatment, only 40 per cent of neuroblastoma patients are currently treated successfully. As few as twelve out of every 100 children diagnosed with high-risk forms of neuroblastoma will survive.

The very poor survival rate for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma is due to the extensive spreading of the tumours throughout the body, preventing successful therapy. Therefore, it is key to understand what underpins the ability of the neuroblastoma cells to spread throughout the body. Most normal cells are held in place by anchors to a matrix that surrounds cells in our bodies. This project seeks to identify how the neuroblastoma cells can pull up their anchors and then invade through surrounding healthy tissue.

“Currently, there are few treatment options for these patients and thus there is an urgent need to make new discoveries in this area. This project has the potential to provide major, novel advances in the understanding of focal adhesion signalling.” - Associate Professor Geraldine O'Neill