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RESEARCH OVERVIEW

The Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory is a multidisciplinary group that focuses on the development of novel approaches to target cancers that are currently refractory to treatment and associated to poor outcome, such as triple negative breast cancers and serious ovarian cancers. At present, there are no targeted approaches to combat these tumors, with chemotherapy and radiation the only treatment options. The laboratory generates novel functionalised molecules able to specifically target these tumors with minimal toxicity to normal cells. Our emphasis is in advanced stage metastatic tumors, which quasi invariably develop resistance. Ultimately we wish to revert the behaviour of metastatic cells by sensitising these treatment resistant tumors to chemotherapy regimes.

The lab deploys state-of-the art precision medicine tools to specifically re-engineer the genome and the epigenome of cancer cells, to restore mitotically hereditable (normal-like) features. Tools currently employed by the lab members include artificial genome engineering proteins (e.g made of zinc fingers, CRISPR/dCas9 backbones) attached to a library of effector domains for epigenomic editing.

The lab has patented and developed interference peptide technology, small synthetic and functionalised cell-penetrating peptides programmed to inhibit oncogenic transcription factors overexpressed in metastatic cells. By blocking or inhibiting essential protein-protein interactions we promote potent and selective apoptosis in metastatic breast cancer cells while sensitizing these tumors to chemotherapy regimes. Lastly, we collaborate with nanotechnology investigators (S. Iyer, UWA & Leaf Huang, UNC) to encapsulate these agents using targeted nanoparticles.

Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort

Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort

Laboratory Head - Cancer Epigenetics

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LATEST NEWS

Activating the silent assassin within to fight breast cancer

Perth researcher wins $1.4m grant to wake up an immune system corrupted by cancer FAST FACTS: Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women globally 14 million women have breast cancer Half a million deaths are recorded annually Nearly half of all deaths are caused by triple negative…

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Brain & Breast Cancer Collaborative Grant Recipient Announced

Project led by Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort will be co-funded by an $890,000 investment from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and National Breast Cancer Foundation. Top researchers from the fields of breast and brain cancer will collaborate to find better treatment options for both diseases over the next four years thanks…

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Personalised medicine using nanoparticles for breast cancer treatment

At the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, a Cancer Epigenetics team is investigating ways to leverage the great opportunities that nanotechnology offers in the treatment of one of the most challenging cancers, triple negative breast cancer. With Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort and the Cancer Epigenetics team, I am designing…

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