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Do unique ‘fat molecules’ on cancer cells hold the key to a new type of cancer therapy?

  • Researcher: Professor Jamie Rossjohn
  • Institution: Monash University, Clayton, Australia
  • Award Amount: £185,854 for 3 years from 1 June 2016
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Do unique ‘fat molecules’ on cancer cells hold the key to a new type of cancer therapy?
The immune system is sometimes able to identify and destroy tumours, and Professor Jamie Rossjohn in Melbourne is working out a new way to harness this power.

“A key goal of cancer researchers is to understand exactly how the immune system can sometimes attack and destroy tumour cells,” explains Professor Rossjohn. “We are particularly interested in a special set of immune cells, called lipid-reactive T-cells.”

These T-cells recognise special lipid (fat) molecules that are found on the surface of some tumour cells. Professor Rossjohn and his team think they could be key to a new type of immunotherapy to treat cancer.

“We need to understand exactly how lipid-reactive T-cells recognise and interact with the lipid molecules which are found on some tumour cells. In this project we want to develop a clear understanding of the exact type of lipid molecule which attracts these T-cells, and how they work.”

“We hope these molecules would be able to act as flags, telling lipid-reactive T-cells and the immune system exactly where the tumours are, thereby forming a basis for developing innovative therapeutics.”
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