Dr Ken Pang

Dr Ken Pang

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Ken

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Dr
Ken
Pang

MBBS (Hons) BMedSc PhD Melbourne FRACP (Paediatrics)

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow

Division:

I am interested in how the body regulates the information contained within our genes. In particular, I am studying the regulatory role of the DNA-like molecule, RNA.

Until recently, only 2 per cent of the human genome was believed to be functionally important. The remainder was largely dismissed as “junk”, since it did not code for proteins. It is now apparent that this “junk” enables the production of regulatory RNAs that are critical not only for normal development but also disease. I am interested in how regulatory RNAs function, and how they can be manipulated to treat disease.

Research interest

Our research is currently focused on understanding the movement of RNAs into and between cells. It encompasses three main areas:

Delivery of therapeutic RNA into cells

RNA interference holds tremendous promise for the treatment of disease. However, despite tremendous effort and investment, not a single RNA-based drug has yet been approved for clinical use, due largely to problems of ineffective delivery. We are studying the mechanisms by which RNA moves into cells in an effort to overcome this delivery problem.

Trafficking of viral RNA

During infection, viral RNA forms an important danger signal that elicits a protective immune response. We are investigating how this RNA is trafficked within cells to enable immune recognition.

RNA-based communication between cells

Accumulating evidence suggests that endogenous RNAs can naturally move between cells in vitro. However, it remains unclear to what extent – if any – such movement occurs in vivo, and we are currently exploring this question.

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Student research opportunity

Unlocking the mysteries of extracellular RNA communication