Research now being conducted by surgi- by lindash


Research now being conducted by surgi-

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                             The influence of RECK
                                                                                                          animal studies on the role of RECK in modifying
Undertaking basic research
                                                                                                          primary bone tumours but our in vitro and in
such as this, has been a                                                                                  vivo studies have already shown that it does have
highly rewarding experience                                                                               some controlling effects on osteosarcoma and
                                                                                                          chondrosarcoma cells, which is very exciting.”
                                                                                                              However, Dr Clark said that while his find-
                                                                                                          ings were an advance on existing knowledge,
                                                                                                          should human trials in bone sarcoma eventuate
                                                                                                          they would be at least ten years away. The goal
                                                                                                          now is to develop effective delivery systems for

          esearch now being conducted by surgi-                                                               “This is now a major challenge. At the
          cal Trainee Dr Jonathan Clark into                                                              moment it is not clear how stable the protein is,
          the influence of a protein known as                                                              and we don’t know if it will be broken down by
RECK on the growth and metastasis of primary                                                              the body before acting on the tumour, so we still
bone tumours could lead to new treatments                                                                 need to explore a number of delivery techniques.
that might limit the need for cytotoxic agents.                                                           Complex genetic mutations are involved in the
Although only discovered less than ten years ago,                                                         down-regulation of the RECK protein so there
it is now known that RECK, found in healthy                                                               is much we need to understand before RECK is
cells throughout the body, can inhibit tumour         Johnathan Clark                                     fully utilised as a treatment option,” he said.
invasion and sprouting blood vessel networks.                                                                 “Still, it is satisfying to experiment with a
     It is thought that if this protein, which is     the RECK protein is down-regulated and MMPs         novel agent and see definitive results.”
down-regulated in common cancers, can be              are secreted in excess, creating a net imbalance        Dr Clark is working under the supervision of
delivered effectively, tumours could be starved       favouring invasion. If this imbalance can be        Professor Peter Choong and laboratory scientist,
of a developing blood supply and so potentially       reversed it may be possible to control cancer       Dr Crispin Dass, and is planning to present his
be treated without chemotherapy or radiother-         invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis.”             findings later this year and early in 2010. He is in
apy, or at least allowing reduced doses.                   In Australia, the incidence of bone sarcomas   the process of submitting abstracts of his research
     While a body of research exists on the influ-     over one year is approximately two cases per        data for an international sarcoma conference.
ence of RECK in common cancers, such as those         100,000 in the population. Many of those diag-          As well as the financial support provided
arising in the breast and prostate, little work has   nosed still have a relatively poor prognosis and    by the College, he has also received the Peter
been done until now on its role in modifying          subtypes like chondrosarcoma are generally          Ryan Prize for Surgical Research (St Vincent’s
osteosarcoma and chondrosarcoma progres-              resistant to current adjuvant therapies.            Hospital) in 2008, and a scholarship from the
sion. Dr Clark’s research has demonstrated that            Dr Clark is undertaking his research as        National Health and Medical Research Council
RECK is down-regulated in human osteosar-             part of his PhD and with the support of the         for 2009.
coma and chondrosarcoma samples compared              College through the Foundation for Surgery              He said that he was honoured to have
with normal tissue.                                   Reg Worcester Research Fellowship awarded to        received such support and had enjoyed the
     “The main function of this protein is to         him for 2008.                                       opportunity to focus on basic science.
inhibit matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and               The scholarship provides $52,500 stipend           “Undertaking basic research such as this
thus control tissue remodelling processes. Angio-     plus $5000 in departmental maintenance.             has been a highly rewarding experience. It not
genesis in both physiological and pathological             Accepted into the orthopaedic training         only improves your analytical skill and under-
states is partly dependent on MMP-2 action to         program last year, Dr Clark has deferred the        standing, in this case, of sarcoma biology and
break down collagen in extracellular matrix and       training post until 2010 to allow him to finalise    histopathology, but provides the opportunity to
allow passages for new vessels,” Dr Clark said.       his research which he is undertaking through the    acquire practical laboratory skills and delicate
     “From previous studies we understand that        University of Melbourne at the Department of        handling of human and animal tissues.
by binding to MMP-2 and inhibiting its action,        Orthopaedics, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.         “It has been extremely satisfying to study
RECK can control this process, promoting vessel            “We already have some definitive findings        an area of orthopaedics in such depth and I
wall maturity and limiting cancer-related tissue      and expect more by the end of the project,” Dr      would now be interested in combining clinical
destruction”  .                                       Clark said.                                         work and research throughout the rest of my
     “In sarcoma, and indeed most other cancers,           “Until now there have been no published        surgical career.”
                                                                                                              SURGICAL NEWS P21      / Vol:10 No:3 April 2009

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