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Melanoma is one of Australia’s most common cancers with over 13,000 new diagnoses per year in Australia. In one out of ten patients, the melanoma diagnosis comes too late, as the melanoma has already spread throughout the body, drastically diminishing the chances of survival. With more than 1,700 Australians dying every year from melanoma - one every 5 hours, we urgently require a better understanding of how the melanoma spreads and why certain tumours respond to current treatment while others are resistant to treatment.

The aim of our research is to develop non-invasive blood-based tests to enable personalised disease monitoring and facilitate therapeutic decisions. Our focus is on the analysis of biomarkers such as circulating tumour cells (CTCs), circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), extracellular vesicles and autoantibodies.

We use a cutting edge methods such as droplet digital PCR, next-generation sequencing, microfluidic devices and single cell RNA sequencing that allow sensitive measurement of these rare cells and DNA mutations. Translational projects explore the relationship between these biomarkers and disease progression, drug resistance, tumour genetic evolution and treatment outcomes, to further their clinical implications and define their specific context of use.

For ways to support us or for more information, contact Associate Professor Elin Gray

Current projects

Group Leader

Postdoctoral Researchers

Research Assistants

PhD students

  • Miss Lokeswari Prathyusha Tangella
  • Mr Aaron Beasley
  • Mr Michael Clark
  • Ms Gabriella Marsavela
  • Dr Muhammad Adnan Khattak
  • Dr Lydia Warburton
  • Mr Emmanuel Acheampong
  • Mr DuBois Asante
  • Dr Afaf Abed

Postgraduate student project opportunities

  • Autoantibodies as melanoma biomarkers
  • Understanding uveal melanoma metastasis
  • Identify molecules to overcome resistance to MAPK inhibition in melanoma
  • Improving ctDNA analysis methods for early detection of disease relapse in melanoma

For more information visit the SMHS Higher Degree by Research or HDR students project opportunities webpages.

Key publications

  • Khattak, M., Reid, A., Freeman, J., Pereira, M., McEvoy, A., Lo, J., Frank, M., Meniawy, T., Didan, A., Spencer, I., Amanuel, B., Millward, M., Ziman, M., Gray, E., (2019), PD-L1 Expression on Circulating Tumor Cells May Be Predictive of Response to Pembrolizumab in Advanced Melanoma: Results from a Pilot Study. The Oncologist, 24(2019), 1-8, DOI: 10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0557.
  • Calapre, L., Giardina, T., Robinson, C., Reid, A., Al-Ogaili, Z., Pereira, M., McEvoy, A., Warburton, L., Hayward, N., Khattak, M., Meniawy, T., Millward, M., Amanuel, B., Ziman, M., Gray, E., (2019), Locus-specific concordance of genomic alterations between tissue and plasma circulating tumor DNA in metastatic melanoma. Molecular Oncology, 13(2019), 171-184, United Kingdom, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, DOI: 10.1002/1878-0261.12391.
  • Aya-Bonilla, C., Gray, E., Manikandan, J., Freeman, J., Zaenker, P., Reid, A., Khattak, M., Frank, M., Millward, M., Ziman, M., (2019), Immunomagnetic-Enriched Subpopulations of Melanoma Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) Exhibit Distinct Transcriptome Profiles. Cancers, 11(157), 15p., DOI: 10.3390/cancers11020157.
  • McEvoy, A., Warburton, L., Al-Ogaili, Z., Celliers, L., Calapre, L., Pereira, M., Khattak, M., Meniawy, T., Millward, M., Ziman, M., Gray, E., (2018), Correlation between circulating tumour DNA and metabolic tumour burden in metastatic melanoma patients. BMC Cancer, 18(1), Article no. 726, United Kingdom, BioMed Central Ltd, DOI: 10.1186/s12885-018-4637-6.
  • Zaenker, P., Lo, J., Pearce, R., Cantwell, P., Cowell, L., Lee, M., Quirk, C., Law, H., Gray, E., Ziman, M., (2018), A diagnostic autoantibody signature for primary cutaneous melanoma. Oncotarget, 9(55), 30539-30551, United States, Impact Journals LLC, DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.25669.
  • Beasley, A., Isaacs, T., Khattak, M., Freeman, J., Allcock, R., Chen, F., Pereira, M., Yau, K., Bentel, J., Vermeulen, T., Calapre, L., Millward, M., Ziman, M., Gray, E., (2018), Clinical Application of Circulating Tumor Cells and Circulating Tumor DNA in Uveal Melanoma. JCO Precision Oncology, 2(May 17, 2018), 12p., United States, American Society of Clinical Oncology, DOI: 10.1200/PO.17.00279.
  • McEvoy, A., Calapre, L., Pereira, M., Giardina, T., Robinson, C., Khattak, M., Meniawy, T., Pritchard, A., Hayward, N., Amanuel, B., Millward, M., Ziman, M., Gray, E., (2017), Sensitive droplet digital PCR method for detection of TERT promoter mutations in cell free DNA from patients with metastatic melanoma. Oncotarget, 8(45), 78890-78900, Albany, United States, Impact Journals LLC, DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.20354.

More publications by the team

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