Studying the function of gamma delta T cells in colon and stomach cancer

2021 Honours opportunity

Supervisor: Dr Lisa Mielke

Laboratory: Mucosal Immunity and Cancer

Subjects prerequisites:MED3LAB, MED3PRJ and/or GEN3LAB


Modulation of the immune system has revolutionised the treatment of some cancer types, such as melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and renal cancer. Despite its huge success, immunotherapy with drugs blocking immune inhibitory receptors PD-1 and CTLA4, fails in gastric and colon cancer. Immunotherapy in cancer patients also results in severe side effects in a significant proportion of patients due to systemic activation of the immune system, causing autoimmune-like syndromes.

The Mucosal Immunology and Cancer Laboratory focuses on identifying new immune targets that can be explored to develop novel therapeutics to treat stomach and colon-specific cancers, while avoiding side effects. We use mouse models and patient samples to understand the organ-specific functions of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs), that consists of heterogeneous populations of T cells that are distinct in their frequency and function across different organs of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Our preliminary studies have shown that one population, known as gamma delta T cells, plays a protective role in colon cancer. In this project we will use single-cell RNA sequencing, flow cytometry and multiplexed fluorescent immunohistochemistry technologies to understand the function of gamma delta T cells in mouse models of colon and stomach cancer and patient samples.

Techniques employed will include:

  • Tissue harvest from mice
  • Tissue digestion and extraction of immune cells from mouse GI tract
  • Immunohistochemistry of mouse and human samples
  • Microscopy
  • Flow cytometry
  • Mouse handling.


How do I apply?
Please complete and return your Ranked Entry Project Selection Form (available in the 2021 projects bookletby 5pm Friday 6 November 2020 to

How do I find out more?
Discover more about La Trobe University’s School of Molecular Sciences/LIMS Honours opportunities
Contact the LTU Honours Coordinator, Dr Ivan Poon
Phone: 03 9479 6488