Charbel Darido

In the Charbel Darido lab, also known as the Darido Head and Neck Cancer Signalling laboratory, our goal is scientific excellence in investigating how solid cancers and particularly head and neck cancers develop, to devise novel preventative and therapeutic approaches.

1 min read 28 April 2023

Peter Mac researchers have uncovered how to potentially stop head and neck cancer from spreading by “flicking a switch” and putting it back into growth mode. 

Research led by Dr Charbel Darido and his team found that head and neck cancers can either grow or metastasise (spread to other parts of the body) - but not both at the same time. 

They compared the behaviour of individual cells that were on the edge of a tumour and ready to spread, to those cells that were growing and dividing.

 “Our research showed that when cells were reactivated and could continue to grow, they were no longer able to spread and invade other parts of the body,” Dr Darido explains. 

“This discovery and concept could be seen as quite controversial in the science community because we usually want to stop the growth of tumours not promote the growth. But in this case, growth can be helpful.

“Most head and neck cancers become aggressive and stop responding to treatment when they spread to other organs, so we really want to try and to prevent this from occurring,” Dr Darido said.

The long-term aim of this discovery is to treat advanced stage head and neck cancers, keeping the size of the tumour under control and preventing it from spreading around the body and becoming untreatable. 

More than 660,000 new cases of head and neck cancers are diagnosed worldwide with over 325,000 deaths every year.

The research conducted by Dr Darido and his team at Peter Mac was published in Nature Communication at the end of March 2023.