There is currently no effective treatment for ovarian cancer that achieves long-term patient survival. Dr Maree Bilandzic’s research program has a strong focus on addressing the unmet needs faced by women battling ovarian cancer: the lack of effective treatments and ways to monitor disease.

Dr Bilandzic is particularly focused on a specialised subset of ovarian cancer cells called “Leader Cells”. Leader cells are fundamental to metastasis, tumour progression and chemo resistance, yet not much is known about them in an ovarian cancer context.

Dr Bilandzic has been fortunate to receive support from philanthropic organisations such as the CASS Foundation, Fielding Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. Her studies are facilitated by strong clinical collaborations within the Monash Health Translation Precinct.

Dr Bilandzic believes that understanding the molecules and pathways controlling critical stages of metastasis is essential to enable the development of treatments that specifically counter the dual problems associated with chemoresistance and tumour spread.

Selected publications

  • Karimnia N, Wilson AL, Green E, Matthews A, Jobling TW, Plebanski M, Bilandzic M*, Stephens AN* (2021) Chemoresistance is mediated by ovarian cancer leader cells in vitro. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 40:276. * Equal contribution

  • Karimnia N, Ho G, Stephens AN, Bilandzic M (2021) Targeting Leader Cells in Ovarian Cancer as an Effective Therapeutic Option. In Ovarian Cancer – Updates in Tumour Biology and Therapeutics. Ho G and Webber K, eds. London: IntechOpen. Available from: doi: 10.5772/intechopen.98689

  • Moffitt LR, Bilandzic M, Wilson AL, Chen Y, Gorrell MD, Oehler MK, Plebanski M, Stephens AN (2020) Hypoxia Regulates DPP4 Expression, Proteolytic Inactivation, and Shedding from Ovarian Cancer Cells. Int J Mol Sci 21:8110.

  • Moffitt L, Karimnia N, Stephens A, Bilandzic M (2019) Therapeutic Targeting of Collective Invasion in Ovarian Cancer. Int J Mol Sci 20:1466.

  • Bilandzic M, Rainczuk A, Green E, Fairweather N, Jobling TW, Plebanski M, Stephens AN (2019) Keratin-14 (KRT14) Positive Leader Cells Mediate Mesothelial Clearance and Invasion by Ovarian Cancer Cells. Cancers (Basel) 11:1228.

  • Wilson AL, Wilson KL, Bilandzic M, Moffitt LR, Makanji M, Gorrell MD, Oehler MK, Rainczuk A, Stephens AN, Plebanski M (2018) Non-Invasive Fluorescent Monitoring of Ovarian Cancer in an Immunocompetent Mouse Model. Cancers (Basel) 11:32.