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Dr Stephen Mattarollo


Supported by Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland 

Chief investigator:   Dr Stephen Mattarollo

Institute:                   University of Queensland  Diamantina Institute
Project title:              Treating blood cancers by activating and boosting
   the immune system response to cancer
Disease focus:         Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
Funding:                   $100,000
Funding period:       2014

Project summary 

A potential new vaccine to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is under development at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute.

Dr Stephen Mattarollo is leading the vaccine development. In this project, his research team is using pre-clinical models of NHL to investigate the benefits of combining the vaccine with the front-line therapy, rituximab, to improve patient outcomes.

According to Dr Mattarollo, the vaccine boosts the immune system by stimulating the expansion and activity of Natural Killer T cells and CD8 T cells.

“Our immune system is actually capable of killing blood cancer cells, but cancers generally suppress the immune response,” he said.

“We’ve developed a therapeutic vaccine that re-activates the immune system to help it better target and kill non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells.

“We believe our vaccine strategy may complement front-line therapies, such as rituximab and many chemotherapeutics that rely on components of an immune response for their effectiveness.

“Hopefully this project will provide a platform for future trials of the vaccine in patients as well as a sound rationale for combining immunotherapeutic approaches in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”