The Growth Research Group is a translational cancer biology and proteomics laboratory, and the main focus for pre-clinical breast cancer research in the Kolling Institute. The laboratory, headed by Professor Rob Baxter, is recognised internationally for its ground-breaking research on the role of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and their binding proteins (IGFBPs) in the regulation of normal tissue growth and the aberrant cellular growth seen in cancer.
Its main achievements include characterising the protein complexes that transport IGFs in the circulation; discovering how IGFBPs affect breast cancer growth, survival and chemoresistance by modulating cell signalling pathways; and the development of new biomarkers for clinical breast cancer prognosis. The group’s publications have been cited over 25,000 times.
Current projects focus on the development of new treatments to overcome chemotherapy resistance in women with triple-negative breast cancer. These treatments target pathways that are activated by IGFBP-3 in these cancers: EGF receptor signalling, sphingosine kinase activation and DNA damage repair. Using both in vitro and in vivo models, the group has proven the efficacy of a novel combination therapy that is now being developed for testing in early clinical trials.
Current competitive grant funding is from the Australian Research Council, Cancer Council NSW and Cancer Institute NSW through the Sydney Vital Translational Cancer Research Centre.