Skin Cancer Research
‘Which one is the malignant mole? Scarless biopsy for early diagnosis of melanoma’
University of Sydney, NSW
Co-funded by Rotary Clubs of Chelsea, Mt Druitt and Mrs Val Henry ‘Rob Henry & George Malone PhD Scholarship
“In Australia, skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and there is a clear need for intervention strategies”
I was born in Blacktown, Western Sydney. My parents and the difficulties they had faced providing for me, encouraged me to study and to become independent by working. Concurrently, I pursued interests in figure skating, karate, music, ballroom dancing, and travelling through Europe and the Asia Pacific regions.
In 2014, I completed a Masters in Medical Biotechnology after a Bachelor’s of Science, Biochemistry in 2012. Since graduating, I worked as a Research Assistant with the University of Sydney. The experience inspired me to pursue further study with a PhD with the Department of Dermatology at Westmead Hospital/University of Sydney.
The project aims to find potential differences in protein content between the common mole, and still curable early melanoma with an invasive depth of less than 1 mm. Current early detection techniques are inefficient, they have a high level of uncertainty because only less than 30% of these moles will turn malignant. Currently, there are no markers that can determine when or which mole will become malignant, and this has led to an unnecessarily high number of excisions or biopsies performed resulting in an excess of expenses and unnecessary stress for the patient. Therefore, there is a demand for a better understanding of the mechanisms with which early melanoma develops and also an improved method to detect these malignancies early before it becomes too late.
I will be analysing the protein profile of moles and melanoma to detect any changes that lead to the development of melanoma, before the tumour becomes invasive. We will uncover any potential markers that will help detect melanoma early. Additionally, this information will tell us about the mechanisms involved by which melanoma develops.
Using this information, I will develop a non-invasive diagnostic technique that will eliminate the need for unnecessary biopsies. This non-invasive technique is a scarless biopsy that uses adhesive tape to gently remove the top layer of skin, the stratum corneum, which is full of proteins. Using protein data analysis tools and techniques we will be able to find biomarker signatures that will indicate the need for early intervention.
Supervisors: Professor Pablo Fernandez, Professor Graham Mann & Dr Marina Ali