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Wednesday 2 October 2013 8:05am

Late last year, the University formally recognised 14 Research Centres. Designation as a Research Centre signals the excellence and coherence of the research group's endeavours. Continuing our Research Centre Series, the Bulletin takes a look at the Centre for Translational Cancer Research.

Director of the CTCR Professor Parry Guilford. Photo: Alan Dove.

The Centre for Translational Cancer Research (CTCR) combines major University of Otago research groups in cancer genetics and cancer immunology with leading oncologists and cancer surgeons. Their goal is to improve the survival and quality of life of cancer patients by bringing new and more effective options for diagnosis and treatment.

Translational cancer research aims to address very defined clinical problems. These include accelerating the development of new drugs, diagnostics, and other tools that assist clinicians.

Director of the CTCR Professor Parry Guilford, who works with both a fatal form of inherited stomach cancer and bladder cancer, has seen the development of diagnostic tools that have profound life-saving effects.

“Tumours develop by acquiring mutations in genes that control cell proliferation, survival and migration. Although these mutations help the development of the cancer cells, they can also create weaknesses. We are working to exploit those weaknesses.”

Multiple vulnerabilities have been identified in cancers with mutations in the tumour suppressor gene CDH1. Drugs that exploit some of these vulnerabilities are being rapidly progressed for common forms of breast and stomach cancer. The same approach will soon be applied to colorectal cancer.

The Cancer Genetics Laboratory in the Biochemistry building is a hub for key staff. However CTCR researchers are based in several sites throughout the campus in Dunedin and in Christchurch.

To learn more about the different areas of research at the CTCR, visit or email

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