Research Supervisor Connect

Interaction between angiogenesis and cancer stem cells in liver cancer


This project suits the students who are interested in working towards PhD or Master's degrees.


Dr Liang Qiao, Professor Jacob George.

Research location

Westmead - Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Program type



Liver cancer is the 5th most common cancer worldwide and the 3rd most common cause of cancer related mortality. Liver cancer is generally resistant to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and as a result the majority of patient die within a year of diagnosis. There are currently a range of clinical trials testing the efficacy of new drugs to treat liver cancer. Among the most promising drugs under development are the drugs that target tumour angiogenesis as liver cancer is a highly vascular malignant tumour in that angiogenesis is essential for tumour progression, metastasis, and recurrence. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels around and within the tumour tissues and it supports tumour growth and progression by providing essential nutrients. However data generated from the clinical studies have shown that patients develop rapid resistance to the angiogenic inhibitors. Our preliminary data showed that resistance of tumour angiogenesis may be mediated by the interaction between vascular endothelial cells and liver cancer stem cells (LCSCs). It is now believed that liver cancer is a stem cell disease, and LCSCs are not only responsible for cancer initiation, but also for treatment failure and relapse as LCSCs are generally resistant to drug therapies including to anti-angiogenic agents. LCSCs are able to survive even when there are unfavourable conditions in the tumour microenvironment. Recent studies have shown that cancer stem cells are dynamic in that they can interact with and may differentiate into the cell lineage native in their microenvironment (such as endothelial cells).

We are interested in whether LCSCs may cross talk with tumour angiogenesis. This project will characterise the role of LCSCs in mediating angiogenic resistance of liver cancer. This project will utilise a range of key laboratory techniques including Western blots, quantitative real time PCR (qPCR), immunohistochemistry, tissue culture and flow cytometry. We are seeking an enthusiastic student who is keen to learn new laboratory techniques and gain experience in cancer research.

Additional information

About the Storr Liver Unit
The Western Clinical School's Storr Liver Unit investigates the pathogenesis of liver disease, and the diverse causes of liver injury, such as drugs and toxins, metabolic factors and viruses. Internationally acclaimed, the Unit has made substantial contributions to defining how the liver responds to injury, and how genes involved in the metabolisms of drugs and toxic products of liver metabolism are regulated.
Liver cancer is Australia's fastest growing cancer, and this is an opportunity to take a role in the research of this emerging health focus. The Unit is well funded and thus there is the opportunity to employed cutting edge techniques and tools to bring each project to fruition. Joining a successful research team with expertise in liver disease and cancer, there will also be opportunity to collaborate with internationally-renowned cancer researchers at the Westmead Millennium Institute. As part of the community of over 400 researchers based on the Westmead campus, there will be the possibility to utilise the Institute's state-of-the-art molecular, translational and cell biological facilities.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1317

Other opportunities with Dr Liang Qiao