Associate Professor | Group Leader+61 7 3362 0222
Associate Professor Michele Teng is head of the Cancer Immunoregulation and Immunotherapy Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer. She completed her PhD in 2006 at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and University of Melbourne, Australia. Over her career, she has published 106 peer-reviewed primary papers and reviews (10,834 citations, Google Scholar (August 2020); H-index, 52) in high impact journals such as Cancer Discovery, Cancer Research, Nature Medicine, Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology and Lancet Oncology.
Associate Professor Teng’s group investigates how tumour-induced immune suppression impedes the effective treatment of established cancer. Specifically, she is interested in examining the role of T regulatory cells (Tregs), T-cell anergy/exhaustion, and the IL-23-associated cytokine family in the local tumour microenvironment using experimental and de novo models of cancer. In addition, her group is determining how scheduling of immunotherapies can further improve their antitumour efficacy and have developed a preclinical mouse model to assess how different combination therapies impact on tumour immunity and immune related adverse events. Achieving a better understanding of these immunosuppressive pathways, their relativity to one another and the diversity of effector pathways they control will enable the rational improvement of treatments for patients with established cancer.
2017-current: Group Leader, Cancer Immunoregulation and Immunotherapy Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
2019-current: Visiting Senior Principal Investigator, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*STAR, Singapore
2018-current: Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology
2017-current: Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Queensland
2013-2017: Team Head, Cancer Immunoregulation and Immunotherapy Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
2010-2013: Senior Research Officer, Cellular Immunity Laboratory, Cancer Immunology Program, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
2006-2010: Research Officer, Cellular Immunity Laboratory, Cancer Immunology Program, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
The Teng laboratory investigates how tumour-induced immunosuppression controls the three phases of cancer immunoediting. In particular, my laboratory has a strong interest in investigating the immunosuppressive role of regulatory T cells (Tregs), T cell anergy/exhaustion (mediated by checkpoint receptors), the cytokine IL-23 and its associated cytokine family and immunosuppressive metabolites (adenosine) in the local tumour microenvironment using experimental and de novo mouse models of cancer.
A major focus of the laboratory currently lies in determining the optimal scheduling of immunotherapy to maximise its anti-tumour efficacy. Recently, our group provided the first demonstration in pre-clinical tumour models that neoadjuvant compared to adjuvant immunotherapies were more efficacious in the eradicating of metastases in the context of cancer surgery. This study now raises many key questions about the mechanism of long-lasting immunity created by neoadjuvant immunotherapy, the role of the primary tumour, the possible discovery of new biomarkers in the tumour and blood, and the potentially shortened treatment schedule that may deliver cheaper and safer alternatives for cancer patients. Ongoing work in the laboratory now aims to understand the key mechanism and pathways that are activated and/or required by neoadjuvant immunotherapy which may allow for their selective targeting and thus further improve the efficacy of immunotherapies. In parallel, our study has now spurred many of our clinical colleagues to undertake new clinical trials to compare the efficacy of neoadjuvant compare to adjuvant immunotherapies.
Currently, the next frontier in cancer immunotherapy lies in combination approaches and this can potentially benefit a greater proportion of patients with cancer. Although new combination immunotherapies induce better efficacy, they can potentially induce severe immune-related adverse events (irAE) in humans and can lead to discontinuation of treatment and can result in fatalities if not promptly treated. Clinicians are currently faced with the dilemma of what combination immunotherapies to test in different cancers. The laboratory has also recently developed a preclinical mouse model that allows the therapeutic index (antitumor efficacy vs immune-related adverse events (irAEs)) of antibodies targeting various immunomodulatory receptors to be simultaneously assessed for the first time. Filling a need, this mouse model may be used to preclinically assess the therapeutic window of novel immunotherapy combinations in different tumour types to aid clinicians and pharmaceutical companies weigh up their risk/cost–benefit profile. Furthermore, our model offers an opportunity to dissect whether the molecular pathways governing the development of antitumour immunity and irAEs are related or distinct to allow more specific targeting.
2019-current: European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)
2016-current: European Academy for Tumor Immunology (EATI)
2002-2019: Australasian Society of Immunology (ASI)
2012 – 2016
2008 – 2011
2002-2006: Doctor of Philosophy, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne
2001: Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Melbourne
1998-2000: Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne