Making Cancer Cells lose a game of hide-and-seek.

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a pot of research gold! As the world celebrated Ireland’s national holiday with a pint of Guinness in hand, Dr Conor Kearney, head of our Molecular Immunology Lab delivers a scientific breakthrough that’s as thrilling as a jig on Temple Bar. Born under the sunny skies of Australia but raised on the Emerald Isle, Dr  Kearney undertook his PhD in Trinity College, Dublin. However, he felt the irresistible pull of his antipodes, drawing him back to Australia after spending most of his life in Ireland to continue his research career.

In his latest publication in Cell Reports, Dr Kearney and his team unveil ground-breaking findings that significantly contribute to our fight against cancer.

“We have conducted a world first epigenetic-targeted CRISPR screen to identify the ways by which cancer cells hide from our immune system,” said Dr Kearney in his unmistakable Irish lilt.

“We identified a protein that can shield cancer cells from being attacked by immune cells. More importantly, we demonstrate that by stopping the function of this protein with a drug which is currently in clinical trials, we now make these cancer cells more visible to attack by our immune cells.”

Just as wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to make you invisible to leprechauns to avoid their cheeky pinch, Dr Kearney’s study suggests a way to disrobe cancer cells of anything green to expose them to our immune system.

A graphical extract from the report

“This is potentially a game-changer in the world of immunotherapy, especially for patients battling solid cancers where responses are often elusive.”

As St. Patrick’s Day festivities kick into high gear, Dr Kearney’s research serves as a reminder of the resilience and ingenuity that define the Irish spirit. With a nod to his roots, Dr  Kearney continues to lead the charge in the quest for a cancer-free future on the other side of the rainbow.