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03 Mar 2023

Dr Nick Gherardin receives grant to explore potential for new cancer therapy

University of Melbourne’s Dr Nick Gherardin, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Doherty Institute, has been awarded a 2022 Cancer Council Victoria Grants-in-aid, to study the immunotherapeutic potential of a specialised immune subset of T cells, in the setting of cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. 

Gene-modified T cells are a promising form of immunotherapy, holding great potential for the treatment of diverse tumour types including leukaemias and solid tumours. However, not all patients respond to this treatment, and those who do often experience a relapse. To improve this type of therapy, scientists are now exploring new approaches to gene-modified T cell therapies. 

Gamma delta (gd) T cells, a little understood population of T cells, have garnered recent attention for their anti-tumour properties and immunotherapeutic potential. In order to efficiently and fully harness the anti-tumour potential of gd T cell biology, it is critical to understand their molecular processes.  

Dr Gherardin’s project, in collaboration with Monash University Professor Jamie Rossjohn from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, will provide fundamental understanding into gd TCR antigen-recognition, critically informing the development of the next generation of gd-centric cell therapies. 

“This funding will allow us to take the first steps in translating our discoveries in basic immunology toward a clinical application and I am very excited to begin work on this project,” Dr Gherardin said. 

“I am also incredibly grateful to the Cancer Council Victoria and the many donors who help to fund these projects. This funding scheme is incredibly impactful and really critical for ensuring that we’re well placed to continue to make breakthroughs in our understanding and treatment of cancer.”