Hans Zoellner, BDS, PhD, an associate professor and head of oral pathology at the University of Sydney, has been awarded the 2012 Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) Research Grant.
The grant supports research into the relationship of malignant cancer cells and those of healthy gingival structural tissue (fibroblasts). The findings of this research originated from earlier work studying aspects of oral cancer and have shed light on other forms of cancer.
The grant, funded by ADIA, is awarded each year to the primary applicant for the highest-ranked research project of those considered by the Australian Dental Research Foundation (ADRF).
Dr. Zoellner’s project, “Characterization of protein and mRNA exchange between malignant cells and fibroblasts,” was considered by the ADRF Grant Committee to be ground-breaking research into how cancer cells behave and potentially evade treatment.
“We have recently observed that cancer cells exchange cellular material with fibroblasts, and the resulting cancer cell diversity may help cancer cells evade chemotherapy. Separately, from an immune standpoint, it seems likely that the cancer cells receive enough components of fibroblasts so that they are less recognized as foreign, while the fibroblasts now bearing cancer cell components would act as immune decoys,” Dr. Zoellner explained in a press release. “In understanding this process, we hope to eventually inhibit the mechanisms through which it occurs and therefore increase the effectiveness of treatments.”
The Australian Dental Research Foundation is jointly supported by ADIA and the Australian Dental Association for the purpose of sponsoring dental research toward improving the dental health of the people of Australia.