Current approaches for the treatment of human cancers typically employ broad acting radiotherapeutic and chemotherapeutic approaches, which have led to high success rates but can be associated with unwanted side-effects. Cytotoxic T cell (CTL)-based immunotherapy offers an alternative approach that is designed to specifically target protein antigens expressed in malignant cells and is thus likely to limit any adverse side-effects. Defining tumour-specific antigens is therefore critical for the successful application of CTL based therapy. Herpesvirus-associated malignancies offer an attractive target for CTL-based immunotherapy due to presence of virally encoded antigens in the malignant cells. Recent success in treating Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) using CTL-based immunotherapy has led to interest in the development of CTL-based immunotherapy to treat other virus-associated malignancies in which antigen expression patterns are well defined but limited to a restricted number of proteins. Our immunotherapy program is aimed at developing new platform technologies to rapidly expand human T cells and also develop new systems immunology tools to identify novel biomarkers which may be helpful in identifying patients who are more amenable to immunotherapy. In addition, we are also aiming to exploit this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic vaccines for virus-associated cancers.
Professor Rajiv Khanna AO | email@example.com