New research on how cancer invades tissues and spreads in the body, and what we can do to slow it down, is underway at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Dr Martina Paumann-Page is spearheading the research, which has just received a $100,000 grant from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation. A Research Fellow at the Centre for Free Radical Research at the University of Otago, Christchurch, Dr Paumann-Page says she was thrilled to learn of the grant, which will enable continuation of their ground-breaking research.

“It is a highly competitive and prestigious grant.  I am grateful that with this funding and with the support of my amazing co-workers I will be able to answer some key questions to increase our understanding of the complex process of cancer metastasis.”

Cancer is a leading cause of death and disability in New Zealand. Nine out of 10 cancer deaths are a result of cancer cell invasion and metastasis. Dr Paumann-Page’s research will focus on the role of peroxidasin in that process. Peroxidasin is an enzyme that was shown to promote tumour progression in several types of cancers, including melanoma, breast, ovarian, prostate and brain cancer.

Martina Paumann-Page

Dr Paumann-Page says the complex process of invasion is not entirely understood, and new strategies to reduce the spread of cancer cells are urgently needed.

“We know high levels of peroxidasin results in cancer spreading faster and therefore poor patient survival – but we don’t know why that is. Our research will look specifically at how this enzyme promotes cancer cell invasion.

“Cancer is an extremely devastating disease with a massive impact on individuals and their families and friends. With my work, I hope to advance our understanding of how cancer cells metastasize and how this knowledge can be used for innovative diagnostic or therapeutic approaches.”

Dr Paumann-Page has a PhD from the University of Vienna, Austria and a Master of Science from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna.

More information can be found here.

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