Through the generous contributions of our community, in 2018 Reflections donated funds to support a Postdoctoral Fellowship through Cancer Council WA under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Chee. We recently received an update on the progress of the study Cracking the Code to Cancer Immunotherapy and this is what we have to share with you.
When asked what the most significant achievement was, Dr Chee responded saying that he collected tumours from animals that responded well to immunotherapy and completed key experiments that generated a robust data set. With the dataset, Dr Chee is able to use new mathematical tools to interrogate how changes in the immune system can predict immunotherapy outcomes. The two research aims for the study, which have both been partially achieved, are:
Developing novel immune biomarkers of responses to immunotherapy in mesothelioma, and
Developing a personalised therapeutic vaccine targeting mutated cancer antigens.
Aim 1 has been successful in demonstrating that immunotherapy outcomes are reliant upon the dynamic changes that occur in the immune system within a tumour before and after treatment. Detecting possible predictors of immunotherapy responses have been established through the development of new mathematical methods. This study is also in the process of being extended to patient blood samples from a recently completed clinical trial.
As for aim 2, they have found that vaccine targeting cancer mutations were not able to protect from tumour growth. Therefore, they are focussing on how to improve vaccine strategies.
Dr Chee has been successful throughout the research, involving being promoted to Level B, Step 1 at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and was selected as a mentor for top-scoring undergraduate students. This was under the UWA Fogarty Scholarship Mentoring Scheme, which started in July 2019 and ends in July 2020. Dr Chee has also formed a new collaboration with two Professors from the University of Pennsylvania. They have utilised novel analytical tools they developed to study immunosequencing data derived from melanoma patients that underwent personalised vaccination.
Dr Chee and his students have presented their results to the general public through their annual community forum, and to members of the Ban Asbestos Network and the Asbestos Victims Association (South Australia).
*All information was sourced from the Cancer Council WA Fellowship Progress / Final Report
NCARD Research Fellowship
Reflections is proud to support the important work being undertaken to improve diagnosis and treatment outcomes for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
In 2016, we had the opportunity to contribute $50,000 to fund a research fellow at the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), Dr Linda Ye. Dr Le has since completed her Research Fellowship in lung cancer research and is inspired to continue onto a PhD.
Acknowledgement by Professor Anna Nowak, Director NCARD
On behalf of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), I wish to thank you for Reflections Through Reality’s generous research support. As you will read in this report, NCARD celebrated many achievements of staff and students in 2018.
A key aspect of NCARD’s collaborative research future is recognising and developing exceptional, passionate and determined research students. Your support has seen Dr Linda Ye complete her Research Fellowship with us at NCARD in lung cancer research and inspired her to continue onto a PhD. Dr Ye represents the next generation of researchers who will build on our work and develop the breakthroughs of the future.
Thank you once again for your ongoing support and investment in our vision.
Clinical trial preparations
During her lung cancer fellowship, under the primary supervision of Professor Bruce Robinson, Linda worked with the NCARD team to develop, write, and achieve ethics approval of a clinical trial protocol looking to explore the novel therapeutic strategy of neoantigen vaccination, initially in patients with lung cancer, with expansion into mesothelioma planned in the future. This treatment is expected to help one’s own immune system fight the cancer by generating an immune response against an individual’s unique cancer mutations. Ongoing planning and development are underway and the trial will be ready to start recruiting in the near future.
Lung cancer research projects
Additionally, Linda conducted regular lung cancer clinics and undertook two research projects based on molecular testing of lung cancer. These two projects helped to assess the pattern of expression of immunological and molecular markers in the Western Australian lung cancer population, and demonstrated the efficacy and feasibility of a new molecular test to detect a specific mutation seen in lung cancer. These projects were both presented at the Australasian Lung Cancer Conference in 2018, one has been accepted for publication and the other has just been submitted for publication.
Linda enjoyed her time as the NCARD research fellow immensely and the opportunity provided her with invaluable research and clinical experience, made possible by Reflections Through Reality. She hopes to continue lung and mesothelioma related research in the future and is currently planning to pursue a PhD through the neoantigen vaccine project.
Reflections’ donation used to fund Research Fellow
Message from Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice Chancellor, The University of Western Australia…
“Thank you for your continuing support of The University of Western Australia and the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD).
As you are aware, research is the key to finding the answers to our questions about mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases. Your support of this research and the team at NCARD is instrumental in bringing us one step closer to finding the answers to those questions, and hopefully, one day a cure.
We are proud of our association with Reflections through Reality; your work in the community in supporting patients through treatment, and raising awareness about mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases is truly commendable.
Once again, thank you for your support, encouragement and belief in our students, researchers and our institution – you truly are making a difference.”