Making a difference

Research assistant Rikki Brown, of Sinagra. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d424507
Research assistant Rikki Brown, of Sinagra. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d424507

The 26-year-old is a research assistant at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands and part of a team that identified a molecule, known as microRNA-7, which showed great potential as a treatment to stop melanoma spreading from the skin to other organs.

Ms Brown and the team, which includes Dr Keith Giles and Professor Peter Leedman, received a second grant from the Scott Kirkbride Melanoma Research Centre to continue their research.

‘Our recent grant was to investigate whether microRNA-7 can inhibit the spread of melanoma to distant sites in the body and recent findings look promising,’ she said.

‘We are also looking at whether this can be developed into a treatment for melanoma and trying to use our research to predict if a patient’s disease will return.’

The team found that microRNA-7 could increase the sensitivity of melanoma cells to current therapies, allowing them to kill melanoma cells better and they lodged a provisional patent for ‘Cancer Therapy using microRNAs,’ of which Ms Brown is listed as a co-inventor.

‘We are moving closer to finding a new treatment for melanoma and being able to slow down its progress, but this takes time,’ she said.

This time can often include 12-hour days, but Ms Brown said it is worth it.

‘I feel the work can potentially make a difference, so it’s worth putting in the extra hours,’ she said.