Network analysis of breast cancer metastasis

Start Year: 2014
Finish Year: 2016
Chief Investigator: Professor Mark Ragan
Grant Type: Novel Concept Awards
Institution: The University of Queensland

The spread of breast cancer to a distant site in the body often has a poor outcome for the patient. This process, known as metastasis, involves a series of steps. Cancer cells must be released from a primary tumour in the breast, invade the bloodstream or lymphatic system, exit at a distant site, and become established in a new environment – usually the lung, liver, brain or bone. Each of these steps requires the activity of a distinct set of proteins.

In this study we will apply methods from computational science and informatics to identify these proteins, and map their networks of interactions with each other and with proteins of the metastatic target tissue. We will determine whether the location of breast cancer metastasis is a consequence of specific genetic mutations that can be detected in the primary tumour before metastasis begins, and whether knowledge of the interaction networks of these proteins can provide new therapeutic targets.