Research projects

Improving the effect of immunotherapies for melanoma skin cancer

Professor Ruth Ganss
Project period
Mar 2021 - Mar 2024
Research Institute
University of Western Australia
Cancer types
Award amount

Project aim

Professor Ruth Ganss and her team are testing different drugs to improve the effect of immunotherapies in melanoma skin cancer.

Hope for the future

Melanoma skin cancer affects more than 16,000 people in the UK each year and is now the 5th most common cancer in the UK. The introduction of immunotherapies has made a big difference to survival rates, but many people with melanoma fail to respond to the treatment.

Professor Ganss and her team are now testing several drugs to improve the effect of immunotherapies in melanoma. Because these drugs are already in clinical use the team hopes that their research can benefit melanoma patients sooner.


Meet the scientist

Professor Ruth Ganss enjoys meeting colleagues at scientific conferences all over the world and says she “indeed feels like a citizen of the world”. When she finds a bit of spare time during her travels, she enjoys going to the theatre and concerts. Back home, she loves bush walking, camping and the Australian outback.

The science

Despite recent breakthroughs, immunotherapy for cancer doesn’t help as many people as we would like. One of the problems is that immune cells find it difficult to reach the tumour in sufficient numbers to be effective. Blood vessels surrounding tumours are different from normal blood vessels – they help cancer cells to spread and stop immune cells from coming near the tumour.

Professor Ruth Ganss and her team identified certain drugs which help to make cancer blood vessels more normal and can help to bring immune cells to the centre of the tumour. The team is now testing these drugs in hard-to-treat melanoma skin cancers in combination with immunotherapies. As these drugs are already used in patients, the team hopes their findings will fast track their use as a treatment for melanoma.

This project is 50% co-funded by Cancer Australia.

Cancer affects most of us; it is deeply personal. My team and I thank all supporters for their trust in our research. We all share the same goal and strive to develop new treatment options for a better future.
Professor Ruth Ganss

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