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Congratulations Roslyn Kemp and Alex McLellan

Posted by on 18 May 2020 | Comments

E whakahīhī nei mātou ki a koe! Department of Microbiology and Immunology Researchers have received HRC explorer Grants. Professor Alex McLellan has received a $150,000 HRC Explorer Grant: "Fighting splicing with splicing: New strategies for CAR T cell immunotherapy". Dr Lyn Wise and Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp have received a $150,000 HRC Explorer Grant: "Resurrection of an anti-inflammatory therapy through protein engineering".

Professor Alexander McLellan received a $150,000 grant over 24 months. Cancer treatment has been revolutionised by the engineering of patient T cells ex vivo with artificial T cell receptors (CAR) that hardwire T cells to attack cancer cells. CAR T cells target proteins expressed on the surface of tumour cells, leading to destruction of the cancer. However, up to 25% of lymphoma / leukaemia patients may develop resistance to CAR T cell therapy. This happens when tumours lose expression of the tumour antigen. Our proposal will circumvent this by allowing CART cells to target a second tumour antigen. The novel genetic mechanism of targeting the second tumour antigen has been designed for optimal production and activity of the CAR T cells.

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Professor Alex McLellan with masters student Alinor Rose. 

 Dr Lyn Wise and Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp received a $150,000 grant over 24 months. Inflammatory diseases represent a huge global burden, but the medicines we have to treat them are limited. Advances in steroids, anti-metabolites, and monoclonal antibodies have offered improved treatment specificity, but are associated with severe side-effects. Cytokines that control immune responses have shown great therapeutic potential, but their pleiotropic actions can make them difficult, and risky, to use. Here, we propose to take a cytokine therapy that failed in human trails, and turn it into a potent, yet safe, anti-inflammatory agent. Specifically, we aim to bias this cytokine’s action towards therapeutic pathways, and away from harmful ones. We intend to achieve this through protein engineering, by altering how the cytokine interacts with, and induces signalling from, its receptor complex. The anti-inflammatory agent produced will likely be useful in a range of human diseases, and the knowledge and tools generated could change how cytokine therapies are developed.

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Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp.


*Tom Devine