Our research focus

We constantly use and develop cutting-edge methodologies, including multiplex immuno-fluorescence and RNA-Scope for the characterisation of the tumour microenvironment, protein arrays for the detection of cancer-specific antibodies, and in vitro T cell assays for the detection of novel immunogenic peptides, among others. We are exploring how a successful immune recognition is orchestrated and translated from the early (innate arm) to the late (adaptive) response.

This ‘immunostaging’ of cancers will allow us to understand why and how immunotherapy works for some patients but not for others, and how we can increase the number of patients who benefit from these treatments. The laboratory has extensive experience in clinical trial monitoring and collaborative industry projects, all centred on improving outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients. We collaborate with several leading cancer research laboratories in Australia and internationally.

Fast facts

Tumour cells often look very different to the immune system when compared to healthy cells. To avoid destruction, tumours use a variety of strategies to overcome or to ‘hide’ from an immune response. This interaction of tumour cells with a large variety of immune cells can be more or less pronounced and influence outcome of the disease or response to particular treatments. The quality and quantity of these interactions can be measured on multiple levels, which all together represent the tumour-immune engagement.

Antibodies are proteins produced by a subtype of immune cells which can specifically recognise, bind and often neutralise antigens which the immune system recognises as foreign or a threat (e.g. viruses or bacteria). In cancer, specific antibodies are produced as a response to antigens on cancer cells, which are different than those on normal cells. While their function in the immune recognition of cancer is unclear, their detection in the blood indicates the presence of cancer cells.

Recent publications

Science

Characterising the phenotypic evolution of circulating tumour cells during treatment.
Butyrophilin 2A1 is essential for phosphoantigen reactivity by γδ T cells

DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5516

View abstract
Frontiers in Immunology

Autoantibodies May Predict Immune-Related Toxicity: Results from a Phase I Study of Intralesional Bacillus Calmette-Guérin followed by Ipilimumab in Patients with Advanced Metastatic Melanoma.

DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00411

View abstract
Nature Communication

Characterising the phenotypic evolution of circulating tumour cells during treatment.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03725-8

View abstract

Our team

Meet our researchers