Translational Cancer Immunotherapy

The Translational Cancer Immunotherapy Laboratory studies the interaction between the immune response and tumour control, with a particular emphasis on translating our ever-expanding basic science knowledge into clinically applicable therapeutic platforms.

Our lab has a long-standing interest in bone marrow transplantation (BMT), which is the most established form of cancer immunotherapy, but it is associated with life-threatening complications, primarily graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and infections. A new and increasing focus of our lab is the related field of cellular immunotherapy, especially Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which are gene-modified immune cells that have shown to be very effective in eradicating certain cancers. Our lab is one of only a few groups in Australia capable of conducting investigator-driven clinical trials using gene-modified immune cells generated in-house.

CURRENT RESEARCH

  • Developing new Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for the treatment of cancers, including new targets and new methods to regulate CAR T cell function
  • Establishing a capacity to generate clinical grade CAR T cells in-house to facilitate translation into early-phase clinical trials
  • Understanding the impact of CAR T cell therapy on broader immune landscape, including the non-CAR T cell compartment
  • Investigating novel approaches for the treatment of graft-versus-host disease following bone marrow transplantation. This includes a phase I clinical trial using gene-marked regulatory T cells (Tregs) for the treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease
  • Investigating the interplay between cytokines and cytomegalovirus infection on anti-leukaemic immunity and graft-versus-host disease in bone marrow transplantation

Staff

  • Dr Andrea Henden, Research Officer and Clinician Scientist
  • Annabel Waugh, Research Assistant
  • Benedict Loweke, Research Assistant
  • Daniel Schuster, Student
  • Fatima Garcia Bernal, Visiting Student
  • Michael Reynolds, Research Assistant
  • Stephen Boyle, PhD Student
  • Subraja Rajendran, Masters Student

Internal Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • Professor Geoffrey Hill, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center
  • Associate Professor Glen Kennedy, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • Professor David Gottlieb, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney
  • Professor Mariapia Degli Esposti and Dr Christopher Andoniou, Monash University
  • Associate Professor Joseph Powell, Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Professor Stephen Rose and Dr Simon Puttick, CSIRO
  • Associate Professor John Miles, James Cook University
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Leukaemia Foundation
  • Cancer Council Queensland
  • Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation
  • Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Chimera Legacy Foundation

STUDENT PROJECTS

CAR T cells – redirecting T cells for cancer immunotherapy

Suitable for Honours, Masters and PhD students Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) are genetically engineered molecules that can redirect T cells to recognise particular antigens, such as those expressed by cancer cells. T cells that are transduced by CAR targeting CD19 have been effective in treating B cell cancers, e.g. B-cell leukaemia and lymphoma, where conventional […]

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Understanding the Immunobiology of Bone Marrow Transplantationy

Suitable for Honours or Master students. BACKGROUND Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) offers cure to patients with aggressive blood cancers. Its efficacy lies in the ability of the newly transplanted immune system to recognize and destroy recipient malignant cells as foreign, a phenomena known as Graft-versus-Malignancy (GVM). However, if healthy cells and tissues are targeted the […]

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