The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Molecular basis for growth factor regulation of natural killer cell function in cancer

Barrow group

Many cancers secrete platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-D to promote tumour growth. Natural killer (NK) cells express the activating ‘ITAM’ receptor NKp44 to sense expression of PDGF-D and halt tumour growth. An alternatively spliced NKp44 isoform encodes an ‘ITIM’ that is predicted to be inhibitory and is associated with poor cancer patient survival. Tumours may induce this inhibitory NKp44 form to dampen NK cell function as a form of immune evasion. We are determining how the different NKp44 isoforms regulate the cytotoxic and cytokine secreting functions of NK cells and how they impact NK cell surveillance of cancer cells expressing PDGF-D.

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Project Supervisor

Dr Alexander David Barrow

Project Co-supervisor

Professor Andrew Brooks

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Barrow group

3 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Translational and Clinical Research

The Barrow group is interested in innate immune recognition programs, in particular a new immunological recognition strategy termed ‘growth factor surveillance’. Growth factors (GFs) are over-expressed by cancer cells to promote tumour growth. We first showed that the immune system evolved activating receptors to sense aberrant GF expression by cancers. The Barrow group’s goal is to understand how the immune system recognises GF expression by tumours with the ultimate aim of exploiting these pathways for cancer immunotherapy and the development of new cancer immunotherapies.

Barrow group Current Projects