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 period: 2014
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.”