Research

Lighthouse Laboratories is developing itself as a research facility with aspirations to incorporate and grow the entity with diverse research disciplines and project themes.

The founding research theme is child cancer – Neuroblastoma.

In addressing a health problem such as cancer it can be necessary to investigate other diseases and physiological states to help understand what is happening in a disease of interest – See examples:

  • Malignant melanoma
  • Ewing Sarcoma
  • Hamangioma
  • Placenta biology
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Developmental neuro-endocrinology
  • Neurofibromatosis

Our scientific/research pursuits encompass the following:

  • Basic and transnational medical research
  • Developing capabilities for animal free medical research
  • Fostering science communication and technology transfer
  • Nurturing research investigators
  • Medical research ethics in conjunction with clinical trials

Project themes (in brief)

Child cancer – Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumour of infancy with survival trends remaining poor and unchanged for many decades. Neuroblastoma is known to spontaneously regress partially or completely – Notably for infants less than 6 months of age. The chronological significance coupled to this phenomenon is suggestive of a correlation to key intrinsic developmental activities; further, we believe that understanding the biology of such key correlating developmental events has therapeutic potential if it can be alluded, understood and exploited. Lessons learnt are also likely to benefit other cancer types with higher incidence, e.g. malignant melanoma.

Arising from the Sympatho-adreanal precursor cell (SAPC), which itself has origins with the neural crest cell, neuroblastoma arises in tissues with SAPC origin, e.g. the sympathetic nervous system and the medulla of the adrenal gland. During development key events reshape and reconfigure physiological tissues that neuroblastoma arises from. This includes cell death, re-differentiation and plasticity associated with networking configurations/communication.

  • Examples of investigation inquiries to be pursued
    • Discerning expression/role of POMC and a product known as ACTH, in the etiology/progression and survival/regression of neuroblastoma.
    • A search for novel screening indicators to enable earlier detection and intervention
    • Modelling neuroblastoma with retrospective data

 

Research Review

All projects with Lighthouse undergo scientific,safety and ethical scrutiny.  For this purpose Lighthouse Laboratories established Lighthouse Institutional Review Centre. This centre is registered with the NHMRC.  The reviewing committee members are independent of the Lighthouse Laboratories team – Members are selected/appointed according to the Australian National Statement prepared by the NHMRC.

Intellectual Property

We do not wish to exploit the suffering of others, thus our study designs are not centred on commercial spin off. However, Lighthouse always considers intellectual property issues associated with our research, particularly if it can provide additional revenue for sustainability and legal protection – It forms part of our duty of care in terms of due diligence.

Collaboration

Collaboration among peers has obvious benefits. As such, we frequently seek to create, facilitate and engage in collaborative opportunities.

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