Developmental and Cancer Biology

Research Group Head

Developmental and Cancer Biology Research Group led by Dr Jason Cain at Hudson Institute of Medical Research

The goal of the Cancer and Developmental Biology Research Group is to study how aberrant activation of embryonic signalling pathways contributes to the initiation, growth, and self-renewal of cancer. This work is based on the idea that a very limited number of signalling pathways, which are highly conserved in evolution, is required for self-renewal in development, organ repair, and cancer.

The primary focus of the laboratory is investigating the mechanisms underlying the development and progression of paediatric solid tumours, brain tumours and lung cancer, leading to the development of novel therapies, or repurposing of existing therapies, for maximal anti-tumorigenic effect and minimal associated patient side-effects. Using a broad range of developmental, molecular and cancer biology techniques in combination with in vivo mouse models, the laboratory is specifically interested in tumours associated with poor outcomes including malignancies of the brain (diffuse midline gliomas and atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour), bone (osteosarcoma) and lung adenocarcinoma.

The team has played a part in understanding the significance of normal and abnormal Hedgehog signalling (Hh) and epigenetic regulation in development and cancer. The clinical focus of the laboratory is the application of Hh pathway inhibitors or pharmacological epigenetic regulators to childhood malignancies and lung cancer.

The team’s experimental work includes

  • Paediatric solid tumours (including brain tumours and sarcomas)
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Hedgehog signalling biology
  • Epigenetics
  • Preclinical models of cancer (including genetic, allograft and xenograft mouse models)

Professor Neil Watkins (CancerCare Manitoba)
Professor Alejandro Sweet-Cordero (UCSF)
A/Professor Javad Nazarian (DIPG Research Institute)
A/Professor Matt Dun (University of Newcastle)
Professor David Ashley (Duke)
Dr Pouya Faridi (Monash University)

VIEW VIDEO | ‘Making Waves’ – a video with Robert Connor Dawes Foundation Founder and CEO Liz Dawes, interviewing Dr Jason Cain about his work and latest developments in paediatric brain cancer research.

For information on available projects and positions within the Development and Cancer Biology Research group please contact Dr Jason Cain.

Research Group