Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience


Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is an extremely common skin cancer with metastatic spread indicated in up to 5 % of cases. Despite cSCC being a significant health burden in Australia, the molecular mechanisms underlying metastasis are still largely unknown and, consequently, treatment strategies are sub-optimal. Current clinical tools fail to adequately stratify a patient’s risk of metastatic disease, and disfiguring surgery and painful radiotherapy remain the primary treatment options. Advances in research on metastatic cSCC have been slow, partly due to the lack of high-fidelity in vitro models. Due to this, the use of contemporary therapies has been limited to small clinical trials and based on efficacy in other cancers rather than empirical evidence in cSCC. As a result, no targeted therapies or predictive tools for metastatic cSCC (or even high-risk primary cSCC) have yet been fully realised.

This PhD project sought to establish novel patient-derived cell cultures of metastatic cSCC and to use these, along with clinical specimens, to help elucidate the unique biological properties and drug sensitivities of metastatic cSCC.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.