Kelly Walton

Dr

20082021
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Personal profile

Biography

Following the award of her PhD in 2008 (Swinburne University), Dr Walton joined the Growth Factor Therapeutics Laboratory at Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research (Clayton), alongside Dr Craig Harrison and A/Prof David Robertson. In 2016, she moved to Monash University where she now co-heads the Growth Factor Therapeutics Laboratory in the Department of Physiology. Her research interest is transforming growth factor ‐β (TGF‐β) biology. TGF‐β proteins regulate cell growth and are frequently altered in chronic human diseases including cancers and infertility. Kelly’s initial findings defined how TGF‐β proteins are assembled in humans (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2009. 284:9311‐9320; Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2010. 285:17029‐37) which enabled the generation of a specific TGF‐β based therapeutics (Endocrinology, 152:3758‐68). The new class of TGF‐β protein therapeutics have exciting potential in the treatment of metabolic wasting associated with cancer and aging.

Research interests

Physiological Consequences of the Loss of Inhibin Activity -

Gonadal-derived inhibin A and inhibin B are essential factors in mammalian reproduction, negatively regulating pituitary production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Remarkably, declines in inhibin levels across the menopause transition do not only correlate with an increase in FSH, but also a rapid decrease in bone and muscle mass. Thus, restoration of inhibin function in post-menopausal women may protect from further insult and increase bone health.

Our laboratory is pioneering the development of inhibin mimetics for the treatment of bone disease. Our recently published approach describing the streamlined manufacture of inhibins (Endocrinology, 2016, 157(7), 2799-2809) will enable us to fully explore the contribution of inhibins to reproductive and extra-gonadol functions. This program explores the role of inhibins in reproductive physiology, and the therapeutic potential of inhibins in models of bone disease.

 

Targeting activin signalling for the treatment of muscle wasting disorders -

Muscle wasting is a fatal consequence of disease progression, and is observed in 80% of patients suffering advanced cancers. Sadly, 25% of all cancer related fatalities are the attributed to tumour-derived wasting effects. Our group has identified a factor, activin, which can promote severe body wasting even in the absence of tumour growth (FASEB J, 2014, 28(4), 1711-1723). Activin is upregulated in many human cancers, and in some instances, is also speculated to contribute to cancer progression. To combat activin-mediated wasting, we have generated a new class of specific antagonists by modification of activins naturally associated propeptide. These propeptides have demonstrated to be both potent and specific antagonists of activin mediated wasting in mice, and have exciting potential in the treatment of cancer-associated wasting in patients suffering cancer cachexia (Molecular Therapy, 2015, 23(3), 434–444). This program explores the tissue and ligand specific targeting of activin-mediated wasting in cancers. 

 

Biography

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Projects 2015 2021

Research Output 2008 2019

Specific targeting of TGF-β family ligands demonstrates distinct roles in the regulation of muscle mass in health and disease

Chen, J., Walton, K. L., Hagg, A. G., Colgan, T. D., Johnson, K. E., Qian, H., Gregorevic, P. & Harrison, C. A., 27 Jun 2017, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114, 26, p. E5266-E5275 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Differential effects of IL6 and activin A in the development of cancer-associated cachexia

Chen, J. L., Walton, K. L., Qian, H., Colgan, T. D., Hagg, A., Watt, M. J., Harrison, C. A. & Gregorevic, P., 15 Sep 2016, In : Cancer Research. 76, 18, p. 5372-5382 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File

Development of novel activin-targeted therapeutics

Chen, J., Walton, K., Al-Musawi, S., Kelly, E. M., Qian, H., La, M., Lu, L., Lovrecz, G. O., Ziemann, M., Lazarus, R., El-Osta, A., Gregorevic, P. & Harrison, C. A., 2015, In : Molecular Therapy. 23, 3, p. 434-444 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Elevated expression of activins promotes muscle wasting and cachexia

Chen, J. L., Walton, K., Winbanks, C. E., Murphy, K. T., Thomson, R. E., Makanji, Y., Qian, H., Lynch, G. S., Harrison, C. A. & Gregorevic, P., 2014, In : FASEB Journal. 28, 4, p. 1711 - 1723 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Generation of a specific activin antagonist by modification of the activin A propeptide

Makanji, Y., Walton, K. L., Chan, K. L., Gregorevic, P., Robertson, D. M. & Harrison, C. A., Oct 2011, In : Endocrinology. 152, 10, p. 3758-3768 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Prizes

Society for Reproductive Biology - 2017 Newcastle Emerging Leadership Award, $1000

Kelly Walton (Recipient), 29 Aug 2017

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Advancing Women’s Research Success Grant (Monash University), $9400

Kelly Walton (Recipient), 2017

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Australian Women in Endocrinology Travel Award, $500

Kelly Walton (Recipient), 2012

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Career Enhancement Award, Prince Henry’s Institute, $5000

Kelly Walton (Recipient), 2013

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)