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Contact Details

Research Fellow
Department of Biochemistry
Research summary
Post-transcriptional regulation in mammalian cells; Cancer research


Dr Chen is based in the Cancer Genetics Laboratory, headed by Prof Parry Guilford. His research themes to date encompass gene expression regulation in human cells at the protein and RNA levels, in human diseases. He is currently working on a HRC funded project in search of drugs that will destroy E-cadherin deficient cancer cells but not healthy cells with normal levels of the protein. E-cadherin is a protein that suppresses tumour growth and is often silenced in cancer cells. The approach of targeting cancer cells devoid of a tumour suppressor protein require an unconventional approach termed synthetic lethality which seeks to exploit vulnerabilities within the cancer cells created by the loss of the E-cadherin protein otherwise not seen in normal cells. Indeed, this has been successfully demonstrated in the discovery of PARP inhibitors, which demonstrated preferential killing of breast cancers cells deficient of BRCA1 and BRCA2 tumour suppressor proteins. The search for the synthetic lethal partner to E-cadherin involving RNAi and drug screen approaches to date has shown promise of several potential targets using existing drugs. We're at an exciting time in cancer research in the search for efficacious drugs that will selectively target tumours and at the same time less toxic to patients.


Hannah, S. J., Chen, A., Day, R. C., & Black, M. A. (2022). Improvising read accuracy for ctDNA diagnostics. Proceedings of the Genetics Otago (GO) Annual Symposium. Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Clarke, R. M., Hess, A., Caulton, A., Brauning, R., McRae, K., Chen, A., & Clarke, S. (2022, August). Simultaneous investigation of genomic regions of interest: The use of adaptive sampling. Poster session presented at the Applied Genetics/Genomics in Breeding Technologies Satellite Meeting: Queenstown Research Week, Queenstown, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

Bhandari, B. K., Lim, C. S., Remus, D. M., Chen, A., van Dolleweerd, C., & Gardner, P. P. (2021). Analysis of 11,430 recombinant protein production experiments reveals that protein yield is tunable by synonymous codon changes of translation initiation sites. PLoS Computational Biology, 17(10), e1009461. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009461 Journal - Research Article

Bougen-Zhukov, N., Nouri, Y., Godwin, T., Taylor, M., Hakkaart, C., Single, A., Brew, T., Permina, E., Chen, A., Black, M. A., & Guilford, P. (2019). Allosteric AKT inhibitors target synthetic lethal vulnerabilities in E-cadherin-deficient cells. Cancers, 11(9), 1359. doi: 10.3390/cancers11091359 Journal - Research Article

Beetham, H., Chen, A., Telford, B. J., Single, A., Jarman, K. E., Lackovic, K., … Guilford, P. (2019). A high-throughput screen to identify novel synthetic lethal compounds for the treatment of E-cadherin-deficient cells. Scientific Reports, 9, 12511. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48929-0 Journal - Research Article

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