Helping the immune system ‘find & destroy’ skin cancer cells

Professor Xu Dong Zhang

Professor Xu Dong Zhang

University of NewcastleCancer Council NSW Funding: $351,787Funding duration: 2016-2018

Background

MAPK inhibitors are a class of new drugs in the treatment of melanoma. However, most patients who respond initially relapse within one year.

The research

This research will explore ways to help the immune system find and destroy melanoma cells. Some melanoma cells escape detection by sending out ‘don’t eat me’ signals.

The major focus of Professor Zhang’s work has been understanding melanoma at the genetic level and using this information to inform new approaches to treatment.

This particular project will focus on improving the effectiveness of a new class of melanoma drugs, called MAPK inhibitors.

The body’s immune system plays an important role in identifying and destroying cancer cells. The MAPK inhibitors in melanoma cells promote a “don’t eat me” signal that enables them to escape destruction by the body’s immune system. This project will develop a way of targeting this ‘don’t eat me’ signal and combine this with the MAPK inhibitors so that patients don’t relapse.

The impact

The goal of this project is improve the outcomes and survival of all people affected by melanoma.


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