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Decoding Roles Of The PTEN-PI3K Axis In Breast Cancer Initiation, Evolution and Therapeutic Response

Group Head- Cancer Biology and Cell Signalling Lab, Biomedicine
Discovery Institute and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular
Biology, Monash University.

ZOOM: https://monash.zoom.
Passcode: 156027

In Person: CL_15 Innovation
Walk, Room G19, Bldg 75

Constitutive activation of thePI3K-AKT-mTOR signalling cascade is frequently observed in cancer where it promotes anabolic growth and cell survival. Inactivation of the tumour suppressor phosphatase PTEN and acquisition of oncogenic mutations in the kinase PI3K have been identified as the most common genetic events leading to PI3K pathway activation and tumour initiation. In particular, the co-occurrence of PTEN and PI3K mutations is associated with disease progression and poor response to systemic and targeted therapies across many cancer types, including breast cancer. This presentation will provide an overview of the model systems and experimental approaches we use to study mechanisms promoting breast cancer malignancy upon PTEN and PI3K mutations. It will highlight ongoing work characterising tumour heterogeneity and pathways to identify new treatment modalities for resistant disease.

Antonella Papa received her PhD in Molecular Biology and Physiology from the University of Bologna, Italy in 2008, working on signalling cascades downstream of neurotrophin receptors in neuroblastoma. She then joined the Pandolfi laboratory at Harvard Medical School, Boston USA, for her postdoctoral studies where she generated new knock-in mice and characterised molecular mechanisms underpinning Pten loss-of-function-driven tumourigenesis. Since 2016 Antonella has headed the Cancer Biology and Cell Signalling lab at Monash where she has established new lines of research defining mechanisms promoting breast tumorigenesis associated with PI3K pathway activation. Together with the establishment of novel pre-clinical models of advanced-stage breast cancer, the Papa lab employs omics methods and functional assays with organoid lines to develop precision medicine approaches for breast cancer treatment. Antonella has received funding from the NHMRC and philanthropic organizations (National Breast Cancer Foundation Career Development Fellowship) and is currently a Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA) Mid-Career Research fellow.

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