“When you get something this exciting,
you can’t believe you’ve found it”


Associate Professor Michelle Wykes
leads the Molecular Immunology Group at QIMR Berghofer. She has worked at the Institute for over 20 years, investigating how our immune systems respond to the challenge of disease.

 

 

THE DISCOVERY

I simply could not believe what I’d found – could this be cancer’s vulnerability? The discovery came as I investigated how the immune system responded to malaria. I wanted to help half a million children who die every year from this dreadful illness. I never thought it would lead to new hope for breast and colorectal cancer treatment. Finding this potential ‘Masterswitch’ which turns on the body’s dendritic cells, central to the body’s immune response, was incredibly exciting. We thought we could use this switch to turn on the body’s fighter T-cells to recognise and attack cancer cells.

The pre-clinical laboratory results were simply breathtaking. We started with Micro Satellite Stable (MSS) bowel cancers, responsible for about 80 percent of all bowel cancers. Those who have this type of cancer have very few good treatment options and outcomes sadly reflect this. It’s the same for people diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, the treatment options are just not good. To our amazement, results obtained in pre-clinical laboratory work showed an 80 percent success rate clearing the cancers! And after ten months, it hadn’t grown back. The next step was to see whether results could be repeated in blood samples from metastatic colon cancer patients at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. They showed the same stunning results.

With your help, we can progress this vital research and other exciting medical breakthroughs, providing real hope to patients and their loved ones.

 

 

THE MASTERSWITCH

1 Dendritic cells are the generals of the immune system. They tell other immune cells when to wake up and which cells to attack. We have developed antibodied that turn on a master switch on dendritic cells to detect and discover cancers, which usually hide amoungst the good cells 2 The dendritic cells and the antibodies then activate T-cells. 3 Since the cancer can no longer hide away, the T-cells can now attack and kill cancer cells effectively.

 

THE LOSS

“I’d give anything to have him back today.”

Daniel Williams was left devastated by the death of his dad Tony to bowel cancer at just 49 years of age. Daniel remembers his dad as charismatic, cheeky and kind, and he misses him every day.

It would have meant the world for there to be a cure or even hope for Dad. There are so many moments he’s missed, and so many milestones of mine that he hasn’t been there for.

I really wish he’d been around for all those little ‘father life lessons’, but I’ve had to work out a lot on my own, or just go without. And just having him around – I just wish he was there to be in my life.

All these years later I still find it hard to talk about what he went through, and I hope other families won’t have to go through the same thing.

 

THE HOPE

 

“Being able to say we can get rid of your cancer
is a dream for me.”

 
Associate Professor
Melissa Eastgate
Deputy Director of Medical Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

It’s a very tough conversation to have, when you have to tell someone their cancer is not curable. Every day I see people who are desperately ill with the ‘untalked about’ bowel cancer. It’s quite often deadly and we haven’t seen the huge improvements in survival that other cancers have seen. People come to me after their diagnosis, they are devastated, and they just can’t believe there isn’t a better treatment. It is quite simply heartbreaking.

With your help, we can progress Associate Professor Wykes’s exciting research discovery, and others like it, to help patients and their families by providing the gift of hope this Christmas.

 

THE TEAM

This could be a real game changer on how we treat cancer patients in the future. I won’t give up.”

Associate Professor
Michelle Wykes
Molecular Immunology
Group Leader

“For me, it’s personal. My partner’s family have all had breast cancer. We might be able to end this suffering for good.”

Dr Rebecca
Faleiro
Research Officer

“It’s a great scientific discovery, really exciting and challenging at the same time. The lab results look very promising.”

Deshapriya
Karunarathne
Research Assistant

“If we don’t have enough funding, the project might stop. We are so close. We need to keep going.”

Ji Liu
Research Assistant

 

Your generous gift will be used to progress important medical research at QIMR Berghofer,
such as that of Associate Professor Michelle Wykes.

Donation Gift Card

Give Give hope this Christmas. Donate on behalf of your loved ones to our life-saving work.

Thank you for your support of our amazing research outcomes.

“When you get something this exciting,
you can’t believe you’ve found it”

 

Associate Professor Michelle Wykes (pictured on the right) leads the Molecular Immunology Group at QIMR Berghofer. She has worked at the Institute for over 20 years, investigating how our immune systems respond to the challenge of disease. Her work focuses on understanding dendritic cells, which are an immune cell central to the body’s immune responses.

THE DISCOVERY

I simply could not believe what I’d found – could this be cancer’s vulnerability? The discovery came as I investigated how the immune system responded to malaria. I wanted to help the half a million children who die every year from this dreadful illness. I never thought it would lead to new hope for breast and colorectal cancer treatment. Finding this potential ‘Masterswitch’ which turns on the body’s dendritic cells, central to the body’s immune response, was incredibly exciting. We thought we could use this switch to turn on the body’s fighter T-cells to recognise and attack cancer cells.

The pre-clinical laboratory results were simply breathtaking. We started with Micro Satellite Stable (MSS) bowel cancers, responsible for about 80 percent of all bowel cancers. Those who have this type of cancer have very few good treatment options and outcomes sadly reflect this. It’s the same for people diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, the treatment options are just not good. To our amazement, results obtained in pre-clinical laboratory work showed an 80 percent success rate clearing the cancers! And after ten months, it hadn’t grown back.

The next step was to see whether results could be repeated in blood samples from metastatic colon cancer patients at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. They showed the same stunning results.

We have found something capable of starting an immune war. So rather than just depending on drugs for treatment, we hope to train our own immune system to control cancer permanently.

I really feel the frustration of patients I meet. They are desperately seeking a treatment and I think we may have one, but it needs further development.

With your help, we can progress this vital research and other exciting medical breakthroughs, providing real hope to patients and their loved ones.

A MASTERSWITCH

A LOSS

“I’d give anything to have him back today.”

Daniel Williams was left devastated by the death of his dad Tony to bowel cancer at just 49 years of age. Daniel remembers his dad as charismatic, cheeky and kind, and he misses him every day.

It would have meant the world for there to be a cure or even hope for Dad. There are so many moments he’s missed, and so many milestones of mine that he hasn’t been there for.

I really wish he’d been around for all those little ‘father life lessons’, but I’ve had to work out a lot on my own, or just go without. And just having him around – I just wish he was there to be in my life.

All these years later I still find it hard to talk about what he went through, and I hope other families won’t have to go through the same thing.

“Being able to say we can get rid of your cancer is a dream for me.”

Associate Professor Melissa Eastgate
Deputy Director of Medical Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

It’s a very tough conversation to have, when you have to tell someone their cancer is not curable. Every day I see people who are desperately ill with the ‘untalked about’ bowel cancer. It’s quite often deadly and we haven’t seen the huge improvements in survival that other cancers have seen.

People come to me after their diagnosis, they are devastated, and they just can’t believe there isn’t a better treatment. It is quite simply heartbreaking.

THE TEAM


This could be a real game changer on how we treat cancer patients in the future. I won’t give up.”

Associate Professor
Michelle Wykes
Molecular Immunology
Group Leader

“For me, it’s personal. My partner’s family have all had breast cancer. We might be able to end this suffering for good.”

Dr Rebecca
Faleiro
Research Officer

“It’s a great scientific discovery, really exciting and challenging at the same time. The lab results look very promising.”

Deshapriya
Karunarathne
Research Assistant

“If we don’t have enough funding, the project might stop. We are so close. We need to keep going.”

Ji Liu
Research Assistant

 

 
Your generous gift will be used to progress important medical research at QIMR Berghofer, such as that of Associate Professor Michelle Wykes.

Donation Gift Card

Give Give hope this Christmas. Donate on behalf of your loved ones to our life-saving work.

Thank you for your support of our amazing research outcomes.