Dr Vijesh Vaghjiani, VCA Early Career Fellowship

Dr Vijesh Vaghjiani’s research program focuses on understanding the oncogenic roles of embryonic signalling pathways in cancer. He is particularly interested in the Hedgehog signalling pathway that is strongly implicated in a variety of both paediatric and adult cancers. Dr Vaghjiani’s work utilises robust in vitro and in vivo preclinical models of Hedgehog-dependent cancer to investigate the mechanisms leading to tumorigenesis and progression as well as the identification and validation of biomarkers and specific pathway inhibitors. His current work focuses on developing multi-pronged approaches to exploit vulnerability of cancers with activated hedgehog signaling. He is interested in understanding the mechanisms of pathway activation in hedgehog ligand-driven tumorigenesis. Dr Vaghjiani is a recipient of Victorian Cancer Agency Early-Career Research Fellow investigating hedgehog signaling in osteosarcoma.

Selected publications

  • Cochrane CR*, Vaghjiani V*, Szczepny A, Jayasekara WSN, Gonzalez-Rajal A, Kikuchi K, McCaughan GW, Burgess A, Gough DJ, Watkins DN, Cain JE (2020) Trp53 and Rb1 regulate autophagy and ligand dependent Hedgehog signaling. J Clin Invest 130:4006-4018. (*co-first author)

  • Vaghjiani V, Cain JE, Lee W, Vaithilingam V, Tuch BE, St John JC (2017) Modulation of Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number to Induce Hepatocytic Differentiation of Human Amniotic Epithelial Cells. Stem Cells Dev 26:1505-1519.

  • Sun X, Vaghjiani V, Jayasekara WSN, Cain JE, St John JC (2019) The degree of mitochondrial DNA methylation in tumor models of glioblastoma and osteosarcoma. Clin Epigenetics 10:157.

  • Marini KD, Croucher DR, McCloy RA, Vaghjiani V, Gonzalez-Rajal A, Hastings JF, Chin V, Szczepny A, Kostyrko K, Marquez C, Jayasekara WSN, Alamgeer M, Boolell V, Han JZR, Waugh T, Lee HC, Oakes SR, Kumar B, Harrison CA, Hedger MP, Lorensuhewa N, Kita B, Barrow R, Robinson BW, de Kretser DM, Wu J, Ganju V, Sweet-Cordero EA, Burgess A, Martelotto LG, Rossello FJ, Cain JE, Watkins DN (2018) Inhibition of activing signalling in lung adenocarcinoma increases the therapeutic index of platinum chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med 10:eaat3504.

  • Fleuren EDG, Vlenterie M, van der Graf WTA, Hillebrandt-Roeffen MHS, Blackburn J, Ma Xiuquan, Chan H, Magias MC, van Erp A, van Houdt L, Cebeci SAS, van de Ven A, Flucke UE, Heyer EE, Thomas D, Lord CJ, Marini KD, Vaghjiani V, Mercer TR, Cain JE, Wu J, Versleijen-Jonkers YMH, Daly RJ (2017) Phosphoproteomic profiling across sarcoma subtypes reveals ALK and MET as novel actionable targets in synovial sarcomas. Cancer Res 77:4279-4292.

  • Johnson J, Lee W, Frazier AE, Vaghjiani V, Laskowski A, Rodriguez AL, Cagnone G, McKenzie M, White SJ, Nisbet DR, Thorburn DR, St John JC (2016) Deletion of the complex I subunit NDUFS4 adversely modulates cellular differentiation. Stem Cells Dev 25:239-250.

  • Vaghjiani V, Vaithilingam V, Saraswati I, Sali A, Murthi P, Kalionis B, Tuck BE, Manuelpillai U (2014) Hepatocyte-like cells derived from human amniotic epithelial cells can be encapsulated without loss of viability or function in vitro. Stem Cells Dev 23:866-876.

  • Lee W, Johnson J, Gough DJ, Donoghue J, Cagnone GL, Vaghjiani V, Brown KA, Johns TG, St John JC (2015) Mitochondrial DNA copy number is regulated by DNA methylation and demethylation of POLGA in stem and cancer cells and their differentiated progeny. Cell Death Dis 6:e1664.

  • Hodge A, Lourensz D, Vaghjiani V, Nguyen H, Tchongue J, Wang B, Murthi P, Sievert W, Manuelpillai U (2014) Soluble factors derived from human amniotic epithelial cells suppress collagen production in human hepatic stellate cells. Cytotherapy 16:1132-1144.

  • Liu YH, Chan J, Vaghjiani V, Murthi P, Manuelpillai U, Toh BH (2014) Human amniotic epithelial cells suppress relapse of corticosteroid-remitted experimental autoimmune disease. Cytotherapy 16:535-544.

  • Moodley Y, Vaghjiani V, Chan J, Baltic S, Ryan M, Tchongue J, Samuel CS, Murthi P, Parolini O, Manuelpillai U (2013) Anti-inflammatory effects of adult stem cells in sustained lung injury: a comparative study. PLoS One 8:e69299.

  • Tee JY, Vaghjiani V, Liu YH, Murthi P, Chan J, Manuelpillai U (2013) Immunogenicity and immunomodulatory properties of hepatocyte-like cells derived from human amniotic epithelial cells. Curr Stem Cell Res Ther 8:91-99.

  • Vaithilingam V, Fung C, Ratnapala S, Foster J, Vaghjiani V, Manuelpillai U, Tuch BE (2013) Characterisation of the xenogeneic immune response to microencapsulated fetal pig islet-like cell clusters transplanted into immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice. PLoS One 8:e59120.

  • Liu YH, Vaghjiani V, Tee JY, To K, Cui P, Oh DY, Manuelpillai U, Toh BH, Chan J (2012) Amniotic epithelial cells from the human placenta potently suppress a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. PLoS One 7:e35758.

  • Manuelpillai U, Lourensz D, Vaghjiani V, Tchongue J, Lacey D, Tee JY, Murthi P, Chan J, Hodge A, Sievert W (2012) Human amniotic epithelial cell transplantation induces markers of alternative macrophage activation and reduces established hepatic fibrosis. PLoS One 7:e38631.

  • Manuelpillai U, Tchongue J, Lourensz D, Vaghjiani V, Samuel CS, Liu A, Williams ED, Sievert W (2010) Transplantation of human amnion epithelial cells reduces hepatic fibrosis in immunocompetent CCl(4)-treated mice. Cell Transplant 19:1157-1168.

  • Moodley Y, Ilancheran S, Samuel C, Vaghjiani V, Atienza D, Williams ED, Jenkin G, Wallace E, Trounson A, Manuelpillai U (2010) Human amnion epithelial cell transplantation abrogates lung fibrosis and augments repair. Am J Respir Care Med 182:643-651.