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Boosting the immune system response

Dr Stephen Mattarollo

Project summary

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

Dr Stephen Mattarollo is leading the vaccine development. 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.”