The effect of low oxygen levels in solid breast tumours and surrounding tissues as potential drug intervention target

Lead researcher

Prof David Bowtell, Dr Andreas Möller


Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Years funded


This project explores how low oxygen levels impact on breast cancer cells and their surrounding tissue, identifying opportunities for drug interventions.

Reduced oxygen levels within fast growing solid tumours stimulate the body to develop new blood vessels. These novel blood vessels are required to support tumour growth and enable spread of the tumour to distant organs.

Tumour cells responding to low oxygen levels secrete messenger molecules that are recognized by the blood vessels as attraction signal. The messenger molecules are generated after tumour cells transfer the low oxygen message through an internal signal transduction network.

We have established a breast cancer mouse model in which one of the key molecules of this network is missing. We find that breast tumours without this molecule have reduced blood vessel outgrowth and are slower in their initial stages of development. In this project we have identified several of the messenger molecules which are differentially secreted. Further work in this project should discover the underlying mechanisms and potential bypass mechanisms.

Funding Body

Cancer Council Research Grant


$99,000 in 2009, $100,000 in 2010, $100,000 in 2011