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Medical Oncology: Centre for CTC Diagnostics & Research (CCDR)

Led by Associate Professor Therese Becker, the Centre for CTC Diagnostics & Research (CCDR) study circulating tumour cells (CTCs) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). Using blood samples from cancer patients, the CCDR team analyse these samples using the highly sensitive methods they have developed in order to achieve the following:

  • To aid personalised cancer therapy by enabling the detection of clinically important cancer biomarkers from blood samples.
  • To establish blood-based techniques to monitor cancer therapy response.

Ultimately, this helps to tailor cancer treatment using non-invasive, economical techniques.


A/Prof Becker is an experienced molecular biologist and cancer researcher who has published major work into melanoma, prostate, ovarian, brain, lung and breast cancer in the last 20 years. She joined the Ingham Institute in 2013 to establish the Centre for CTC Diagnostics & Research as a leading facility into cancer liquid biopsies in Australia.

  • Dr Yafeng Ma (CTC Operator)
  • Dr Branka Powter (Brain Cancer Liquid Biopsies)
  • Ph.D. Candidates: Sarah Jeffreys, Heena Sareen
  • Co-supervision: Pei Ding, Tanzila Khan, Tamiem Adam, Eunice Dai, Gary Ticknell
  • Masters Candidate: Anne-Marie Marivel

  • Revolutionising circulating tumour cell analysis in castrate resistant prostate cancer: proteomic microscopy and artificial intelligence for precision definition of mechanisms and targets (NHMRC ideas grant; J. Lock, T. Becker, P. de Souza)
  • Better biomarkers to guide treatment for brain cancer (SPHERE CAG project grant; T. Becker, Tara Roberts, David Ziegler, Geoff McCowage, Jonathan Karpelowsky)
  • Detection of clinically relevant breast cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsy.
  • Defining predictive biomarker signatures for NSCLC immunotherapy response via liquid biopsy.

  • World first method of brain cancer CTC isolation by positive immunomagnetic targeting
  • Developed most sensitive method of detecting AR-V7, a biomarker of prostate cancer therapy resistance, in CTCs
  • Multiplex immuncytostaining of CTCs to detect several clinically relevant biomarkers at once

  • Best oral and poster presentation awards 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 by PhD student Joseph Po, ILP/Hons students Francis Young, Thomas Opperman & Mohammed Nimir
  • Attracted >$7.2M in project and equipment funding since CCDR establishment in 2013

  • Lynch D. et al. Isolation of circulating tumor cells from glioblastoma patients by direct immunomagnetic targeting Applied Sciences 2020 10(9), 3338
  • Brungs D. et al. Establishment of novel long term cultures from EPCAM positive and negative circulating tumour cells from patients with metastatic gastroesophageal cancer. Sci Rep, 2020, 10, 539
  • Ding P.N. et al. Plasma next generation sequencing and droplet digital PCR-based detection of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in patients with advanced lung cancer treated with subsequent-line osimertinib. Thoracic Cancer, 2019, 10(10):1879-1884
  • Nimir M. et al. Detection of AR-V7 in liquid biopsies of castrate resistant prostate cancer patients: a comparison of AR-V7 analysis in circulating tumor cells, circulating tumor RNA and exosmes. Cells, 2019, 8(7)
  • Po J.W. et al. Improved ovarian cancer EMT-CTC isolation by immunomagnetic targeting of epithelial EpCAM and mesenchymal N-cadherin. Journal of Circulating Biomarkers 2018, 7:1849454418782617


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