Research projects

Investigating the effect of immune therapy on certain immune cells

Dr Meredith O’Keeffe
Project period
February 2020 - November 2023
Research Institute
Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Cancer types
Meredith O'Keeffe Dr Meredith O’Keeffe

Aim of the research

Dr Meredith O’Keeffe and her team aim to better understand how certain immune therapies affect sentinel cells in the immune system. Understanding how these guard cells might help to kill tumour cells could help to improve current immunotherapies.

Meet the scientist

Dr Meredith O’Keeffe loves to walk and hike with her family and their “crazy” Airedale terrier, boogie boarding down the coast with her son and enjoys regular Pilates sessions.

More about the research project

Checkpoint inhibitors are a new type of immunotherapy that is a major focus against many cancers - including skin cancer. These therapies include the targeting of molecular brakes – called program cell death, or PD1 – on immune cells. Checkpoint inhibitors turn off the brakes on cells of the immune system, enabling them to better kill tumour cells. PD-1 – an immune cell brake – also exists on specialized sentinel cells of the immune system called dendritic cells. It is currently unknown what role dendritic cells play and how immunotherapies influence them.

Dr Meredith O’Keeffe and her team are now trying to find out how PD-1 immunotherapy affects dendritic cells. Understanding how dendritic cells help to kill cancer cells may help to improve current immunotherapies.

This project is jointly funded by Worldwide Cancer Research and Cancer Australia.

Imagine the immune system is an orchestra. We are studying the conductors.

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