The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: Restoring immunocompetency in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Mackay, Fabienne Group

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a blood cancer caused by the malignant expansion of B cells. CLL cells are able to sabotage the immune system to avoid anti-tumour immunity, but this leaves patients immunocompromised and very vulnerable to infections. We have recently found that CLL cells rely on BAFF/APRIL cytokines to produce the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10. We want to dissect the contribution of the different BAFF/APRIL receptors in this process to understand how CLL cells shut down the immune system. Our goal is to design therapies able to restore immunity in CLL and hence increase patients’ survival.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Fabienne Mackay

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Beatriz Garcillan

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Mackay, Fabienne Group

[email protected]

3 vacancies

Cross Cutting Disciplines
Translational and Clinical Research
Public Health

Professor Mackay’s group has an interest in autoimmune diseases and mechanisms leading to loss of immune tolerance, in particular that of B-lymphocytes. Professor Mackay has spent years studying a cytokine from the tumour necrosis factor superfamily named BAFF/ BLyS and demonstrated the role of this factor in B cell survival. Excess B cell activating factor (BAFF) leads to autoimmunity in mice and is associated with human autoimmunity, in particular Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren’s syndrome. Belimumab, a therapeutic BAFF-blocking antibody has been approved for use in SLE in the clinic in March 2011. This clinical outcome validates over ten years of Professor Mackay’s work on BAFF. 

Mackay, Fabienne Group Current Projects