Prof Jose Villadangos, Prof William Heath
The University of Melbourne
Leukaemia and Lymphoma
The development of therapeutic strategies harnessing the immune system to destroy cancer is gaining strong momentum across the world. Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) is an exciting example of this approach, through which tumour cells are destroyed by an infusion of anti-tumour killer T cells. Over 100 clinical trials of ACT have been completed or are ongoing. The results in some cases have been excellent – especially for the treatment of haematological malignancies – but less successful in others. The main reason for failure is the impaired expansion and/or survival of the transferred T cells. The goal of this project is to find solutions to these shortcomings and to increase the therapy’s effectiveness.
What is the need?
Although it still has some limitations, ACT has been shown to be a viable anti-tumour therapy and has received strong backing from researchers, clinicians, and commercial companies. We believe we have identified particular molecules and molecular interactions that impact ACT’s overall effectiveness. We will now investigate this further and develop strategies to broaden and maximise the use of ACT.
What is the impact of this research?
Cancer treatment already employs multi-pronged attacks using chemicals, irradiation, surgery, etc. Over time more and more treatments will be developed that can be tailored to treat the specific cancer of each individual patient. Immunotherapy is the most recent addition to the group of therapeutic strategies available. ACT is expected to become a mainstream treatment in the not too distant future and our research will help make this a reality.
Cancer Council Victoria Research Grant