Current Research InterestsCurrent projects include the investigation of the role of the CCL2 chemokine (also termed monocytic chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1)), in tumour progression and immunosuppression. Many tumours and immune cells secrete CCL2, which is a strong mononuclear cell chemoattractant and high serum CCL2 in breast cancer patients is a poor prognostic marker.
There is also a clear role for CCL2 in tumour progression, which together makes CCL2 an attractive target for cancer therapy. To this end we have been investigating the use of an anti-CCL2 monoclonal antibody as a cancer therapy, its mechanism of action and its potential to be used to augment other therapies. Experience in tumour-induced immune suppressive pathways has also led to the study of an as yet unexplored link between CCL2 and the immune suppressive function and aberrant expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). In models of mammary carcinoma, these investigations have demonstrated that anti-CCL2 mAb has a modest therapeutic effect on both primary and metastatic disease, and results in a decrease in the number of MDSC that accumulate at the site of tumour and systemically.
I have also recently extended my program to study the immunobiology of cancer stem-like cells with a view to developing immunotherapies to target this refractory tumour cell population, which has shown resistance to conventional therapies. Understanding how host(immune)-tumour interactions change during tumour development and progression, and elucidating the mechanisms of immunosuppression, is important for the development and rational design of cancer immunotherapies. These studies may also reveal targets that can be therapeutically modulated to enhance anti-tumour treatment strategies.
- As a tumour immunologist, my areas of expertise include aspects of both immunology and cancer biology.
- Extensive experience in murine models of cancer (particularly breast) and the in vivo and in vitro analysis of immunological responses.
- Cancer immunotherapy
- Understanding host (immune)-tumour interactions, particularly tumour-induced immunosuppression, as a means of improving immunotherapeutic strategies.
- I have a strong desire that my basic research endeavours have translational applications and to this end I have a particular interest in harnessing this knowledge for the development of combination therapies involving cancer vaccines and/or adoptive immunotherapies that may be utilised for a systemic effect on the spread of metastatic disease.