Improving immune responses to cancer by accessing the lymphatic system

The core concept of cancer immunotherapy is activation of the immune system to mount an attack on malignant cells, allowing the body to recognise, and in some cases, eliminate cancer. However, in spite of some complete responses to treatment, there remains a subset of patients who are non-responders and a number of cancers where malignant cells are distributed in multiple locations making it more difficult to treat. These pose a significant challenge in drug delivery, where therapy needs to be specific, selective and accessible to the site of action.  In this project we will target immunomodulators or immune activating therapy to both tumours and the effector cells of the immune system, which are highly concentrated in the lymphatic system. By altering dosing strategies to redirect cancer therapy to the lymphatic system we may be able to improve treatment responses.

This project will use nanomedicines and protein therapies in combination with cancer models to investigate the impact of lymphatic targeting on immune responses to cancer. The specific aims of this project are:

1) to evaluate the lymphatic transport of immunotherapy and immune activating therapeutics
2) to measure the change in immune response at the lymph node and tumour using flow cytometry
3) to determine how effective this strategy is in killing tumours.