Personalised Cancer Therapeutics Lab

Personalised Cancer Therapeutics Lab

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with a 5-year survival of only 9%. Treatments for pancreatic cancer such as Gemcitabine/Abraxane or FOLFIRINOX provide a modest clinical benefit and a marginal survival advantage in unselected populations. In addition, the majority of patients who undergo surgical resection for localised lesions inevitably develop recurrent or metastatic disease. Consequently, the development of more effective, tailored strategies to understand and treat this highly aggressive and metastatic disease is required.

Utilising the wealth of integrated human cancer ‘–omic’ data (genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic), complex 3D and in vivo models our lab has generated, plus rapidly evolving technologies, our lab studies how the deregulation of genes commonly hijacked in cancer drive tumour (i) heterogeneity (ii) metastasis and (iii) treatment resistance.

Our research program centers on two key areas:

  1. Validating new drug targets and developing optimal combination therapies for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
  2. To better understand how anti-cancer drug resistance develops. To this end, our lab is applying a combination of whole genome sequencing, single cell transcriptomics and other molecular analyses to document the emergence of cancer chemoresistance. Our ultimate goal is to refine tailored treatment strategies for pancreatic cancer, overcome or circumvent treatment resistance and build optimal, effective treatment combinations for patients with this disease.


Novel disease models, technologies and approach

  • Realistic, well annotated in vitro and in vivo models of pancreatic cancer, patient-derived xenografts (n=80 PDX; n=20 PDCL) and novel metastatic models of pancreatic cancer, generated by our lab, provide a unique, robust platform for the examination of personalised medicine strategies
  • Novel 3D organoid, co-culture models for the study of tumour-stroma interactions (pancreatic and other cancer types; including head and neck carcinomas for pan-cancer studies)
  • A sizeable cohort of fluorescently labelled PDX for preclinical drug discovery, providing dynamic readouts of disease state and therapeutic response of examined agents
  • Study of immunomodulatory effects of targeted agents in the genetically-engineered mouse model of pancreatic cancer.
  • The wealth of genomic data and comprehensive patient cohorts generated as part of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative, for biomarker discovery work

Selected lab awards and honours

  • Sean Porazinski: Tour de Cure mid-career grant (2020, CIA); Sydney Catalyst Travel and Education Award (2021)
  • Ashleigh Parkin: National Council of Women of NSW Australia Day Student Award (2019); Sydney Catalyst Travel and Education Award (2018); Lorne Cancer Conference, VIC- Best poster prize (2018); CSTI meeting, VIC- Best overall poster prize (2017); Sydney Catalyst Early Career Symposium- Best oral presentation T1/T2 (2017); Sydney Catalyst Early Career Symposium- Best oral 3MP presentation (2016)
  • Jennifer Man: Australasian Metastasis Research Society conference- Oral presentation (2017); MOGA annual meeting - Best poster prize (2019)

Cutting edge tools

Unique, well-annotated in vitro and in vivo patient-derived models of pancreatic cancer, developed by the Pajic lab as part of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative, are available to researchers via: