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Ms Rebecca Austin

PhD ScholarshipMs Rebecca Austin_Leukaemia Foundation 2015 Research Awards

Researcher:          Rebecca Austin

Institute:               QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
                               (QLD)

Project title:          What factors drive immune response in acute
                               myeloid leukaemia?

Disease focus:     Acute myeloid leukaemia

Annual Funding:  $40,000

Funding period:   2015-2016

Project summay 

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (QIMRB) researchers believe it may be possible to treat acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with new immune-based anti-cancer therapies that enlist the immune system to kill cancer cells.

Immune-based therapies have already been successful in improving survival for melanoma patients.

QIMRB PhD student, Rebecca Austin, is investigating factors that drive anti-cancer immune responses in AML.

“We know immune cells can recognise and respond aggressively to cancer, but in AML we suspect the cancer cells are using a range of tactics to successfully evade the immune system,” said Rebecca.

She is looking to identify how specific types of AML control or evade the body’s immune response, and will investigate how genes that are commonly mutated in AML patients affect the anti-cancer immune responses.

“Once we know how the key AML types affect the immune system, researchers can develop targeted immunotherapeutic strategies for treating the cancer.,” Rebecca said.

“It’s hoped that the findings from this research will form the preclinical basis for clinical trials in AML.”

Rebecca is working under the supervision of previous Leukaemia Foundation research grant recipients, Dr Steven Lane, Team Head Translational Leukaemia Research Laboratory, and associate supervisor, Professor Mark Smyth, Senior Scientist Immunology in Cancer and Infection Laboratory.