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A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Friday, 19 February 2021
Academic background
Sciences, Health Sciences
Host campus
Pathology and Biomedical Science (Christchurch)
Dr Martina Paumann-Page


Breast cancer affects one in nine New Zealand women over their lifetime. It is the most common cancer for NZ women and the third most common cancer overall. Invasion and metastasis are fundamental hallmarks of tumour biology and the main cause of cancer deaths. Despite improved treatment options, a better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms contributing to tumour malignancy is desperately needed.

There is growing evidence that the peroxidase enzyme peroxidasin promotes the invasion of tumour cells. High expression of peroxidasin was reported for several cancers including breast cancer, melanoma, ovarian, prostate and brain cancer. High expression of peroxidasin was associated with poor prognosis and unfavourable patient outcome. We have studied peroxidasin in melanoma cell lines and our results showed higher peroxidasin protein expression and activity in invasive cells when compared to non-invasive cells.

Peroxidasin is an extracellular enzyme with a function in connective tissue formation. We hypothesize that peroxidasin contributes to the remodelling of the tumour microenvironment which leads to increased invasiveness and malignancy. However, no mechanistic studies have been carried out so far to determine the role of peroxidasin in cancer cell invasion.

Our results in melanoma have encouraged us to study peroxidasin in breast cancer using our established cell culture and biochemical methods. Three human breast cancer cell lines will be chosen and peroxidasin protein expression and activity will be measured by ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). The invasive potential of the cell lines will be determined using the matrigel invasion assay and invasive properties of the cells will be correlated to peroxidasin expression. The effect of modulating peroxidasin activity and expression on invasiveness, using inhibitors, shRNA or similar methods, will be investigated. This project may lead to the development of a new therapeutic strategy to block metastasis in breast cancer.

Preferred student expertise

We are looking for a bright and enthusiastic science or health science student with great attention to detail.

For further information

This is one of a number of projects on offer for the 2021 intake of BBiomedSc(Hons) at the University of Otago, Christchurch campus.


Dr Martina Paumann-Page
Tel +64 3 364 0566

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