Centre for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Sciences (BioDeakin)

Future BioDeakin research projects

Kevin Nicholas and Julie Sharp

Laboratory for Comparative Genomics of Mammary Gland Development and Lactation

The research program in comparative functional genomics and bioinformatics focuses on gene and bioactives discovery in the mammary gland exploiting the unique lactation strategies of the tammar wallaby, fur seal, echidna and platypus as model systems to better understand mammary gland development and function. The research platform is comprised of microarray, bioinformatics, proteomics, metabolomics, molecular and cell biology, and captive colonies of tammar wallabies and opossums. Research targets include regulation of mammary cell fate by milk factors and non-coding RNA, endocrine and autocrine control of milk protein gene expression, the role of milk in regulating growth and development of the young, mature onset disease, stem cells in milk and milk proteins with the potential to regulate human breast cancer growth and metastasis.

Projects - Kevin Nicholas

  • Project 1: Comparative genomics of mammary gland development and function in marsupials
  • Project 2. Epigenetics; factors in milk, colostrum, placenta and uterine fluid that impact on growth and developmental of the young to regulate adult-onset disease
  • Project 3. Mammary stem cells isolated from milk; characterisation and potential to form mammary gland and other tissues
  • Project 4. Autocrine regulation of cell fate in the mammary gland
  • Project 5. The role of non-coding RNA in the control of mammary cell fate and function during the lactation cycle
  • Project 6. Characterisation of milk factors with the potential to reduce tumour size using mouse models of human breast cancer growth and metastasis
  • Project 7. The role of milk in stomach development

Project descriptions (35 KB)

Projects - Julie Sharp

  • Project 1: Evolution of mammary gland function by use of monotreme models
  • Project 2: Transcriptome analysis, protein composition and endocrine regulation of protein expression in pigeon crops at hatching
  • Project 3: Identification of proteins in the palcenta/omniote/colostrum/milk continuum
  • Project 4: Investigation of the efficacy of milk proteins in reducing tumour size using mouse models of human breast cancer growth and metastasis
  • Project 5: Mammary gland responses to mastitic infection in humans
  • Project 6: Cell survival, innate immunity and the role of the extracellular matrix in the Cape fur seal mammary gland during lactation
  • Project 7: Investigation of uncharacterized milk genes expressed in the Cape fur seal mammary gland
  • Project 8: Fur seal mammary stem cells - a model for examining LALBA function in the mammary gland

Project descriptions (20 KB)

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Christophe Lefevre

Comparative genome bioinformatics and bioinformatics of the lactation program: Mammosapiens

Recently the genome sequences of a rapidly growing number of organisms have become available. The comparisons of these genomes yield tremendous insights into the genes that are essential for life and those that define the species, revealing the mechanisms of evolution and the hidden mechanisms of gene regulation.

Mammals are characterized by the total dependency of the new born on milk produced by the maternal mammary gland and lactation is one of the most remarkable products of evolution. The rich mammalian diversity found in Australia provides a unique resource to study the evolution of lactation. Mammalian species have evolved a variety of lactation strategies. For example, marsupials give birth to a relatively immature embryo after a short gestation period. By contrast, in Eutherians most of the development occurs in Utero. Thus, the marsupial young depends on milk for a significant period of time of its development. As a result, the study of lactation in marsupial is not only interesting for the exploration of the evolution of the lactation system in mammals, but also provides a unique model to explore the role of milk factors on the control of mammalian development.

The Mammosapiens project is employing high throughput technology platform, including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioactivity screens, for the study of lactation in mammals with extreme lactation strategies. A bioinformatics resource is used to support storage and analysis of the data generated.

  • Project 1: e-Research environment for Lactation Bioinformatics
  • Project 2: Analysis of gene expression data microarrays related to lactation in a number of mammalian species ( platypus, echidna, wallaby, seal, cow, human...)
  • Project 3: Combinatorial algorithm for comparative genome sequence analysis
  • Project 4: Network Biology of the lactation system
  • Project 5: The visible mammary epithelial cell

Project descriptions (59 KB)

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Jagat Kanwar

Associate Professor Jagat Kanwar is an immunologist and molecular biologist. Before moving to Australia his research activities at the University of Auckland, New Zealand during the past decade have focused on devising new treatments mainly for cancer and autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis and inflammatory diseases such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In Australia, his research has focused on exploring the roles of molecular mediators, antioxidants and cellular communication in the pathophysiological mechanisms of inflammatory diseases, including cancer. He is working on nanotechnology based peptide, siRNA and miRNA delivery for targeting survivin (currently most attractive cancer target), HIF-1a and apoptotic cell signalling molecules expression in the colon, retinoblastoma and breast cancers. For commercial funded grants his research group carries out research in the areas of bioactives as immunomodulators, their role in chronic inflammation such as osteoarthritis. His publications have added to the body of knowledge in the fields of cancer gene therapy, cell biology, immunology and nanobiotechnology. Kanwar's research work generated in total of 8 patent/PCTs with two provisionals in preparation. Five of these patents have been licensed for commercialization to biotech companies Antisoma, NeuronZ, Neuren Pharmaceuticals and Fonterra.

Research platforms:

Nano-medicine, Molecular Biology, Gene Therapy, Molecular Immunology.

Projects on cancer

  • Project 1: Investigate whether let-7 miRNA is the master regulator of cell proliferation pathways and regulate the survivin gene expression in tumors angiogenesis
  • Project 2: To study the effect of cell permeable negative survivin (CPDNSur) protein antagonist on the apoptotic and localization of survivin splice variants.
  • Project 3: To study the efficacy of cell permeable negative survivin (CPDNSur) protein antagonist in reversing the chemo-resistance/ radio-resistance
  • Project 4: Targeting hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1a) using its antagonist loaded nanocarriers to enhance liver cancer therapies
  • Project 5: Tumor suppression by targeting survivin expression and function using survivin antagonists loaded nanocarriers
  • Project 6: Anti-tumour and anti-angiogenic activities of neem and Fe/Se-saturated lactoferrin: a potential alternative medicine

Projects on neurodegeneration

  • Project 7: Therapeutic potential of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) oncogene BARF1 protein as a neuroprotection: targeting neural cell apoptosis
  • Project 8: Development of a novel cell based model mimicking human brain anatomy to study neural repair in multiple sclerosis

Projects on AIDS

  • Project 9: Molecular diagnostics and related biomarker in HIV-infected patient

Project descriptions (94 KB)

For more information please visit Immunology and Molecular Biomedical Research

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Metabolic Research Unit

Research Program Overview

Type 2 Diabetes has rapidly become one of the greatest health concerns around the globe. At the Metabolic Research Unit we characterise the events leading to the development of Type 2 Diabetes and identify new therapeutics to treat individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. To achieve this we have implemented a new technique called Gene Expression Signature (GES) to the study of Diabetes. Our GESs consist of small sets of genes that can differentiate between a healthy insulin-responsive state and an insulin-insensitive (resistant) state. Some of these genes are well known mediators of insulin action and glucose metabolism, while others are not been previously implicated in the development of Type 2 Diabetes. Part of our research effort is focussed in generating specific GES for different forms of insulin resistance and insulin production deficiency. We also aim to identify new drugs that are able to reverse the GES profile characteristic of an insulin-resistant state, as they constitute good therapeutic candidates. Finally, other research projects will investigate the molecular mechanisms by which genes within the GES may regulate insulin action and glucose metabolism.

  • Project 1: Using Gene Expression Signatures to dissect Insulin Resistance Heterogeneity in Type 2 Diabetes
  • Project 2: Generation of Screening Tools for the Identification of Novel Agents to treat Type 2 Diabetes
  • Project 3: Using Gene Expression Signatures to characterise pancreatic dysfunction in Type 2 Diabet
  • Project 4: Functional Analysis of new proteins involved in Insulin Action and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Project 5: Chemerin: A new adipokine associated with Type 2 Diabete
  • Project 6: Regulation of muscle metabolism by ubiquitin ligases
  • Project 7: Novel regulators of skeletal muscle function

Project descriptions (87 KB)

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Andrew Sinclair

Biomolecular Nutrition

This is an exciting multi-disciplinary research area which brings together nutritional biochemists with expertise in fatty acids & trace elements, molecular biologists, animal physiologists, experts in diabetes and obesity and sensory scientists

  • Project 1: Discovering the role of essential nutrients in the brain
  • Project 2: What role do essential nutrients have in depression?
  • Project 3: Understanding the metabolism of essential nutrients in ruminant animals
  • Project 4: Is there a critical period during pregnancy or lactation to supply essential omega 3 fatty acids
  • Project 5: How do olives make a natural anti-inflammatory compound?

Project descriptions (99 KB)

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Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

22nd December 2009