The £600,000 award will support research on new ways to enhance immune responses for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Around 7,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year, making it the 6th most common cancer in women. A significant proportion of ovarian cancers harbour tumour infiltrating lymphocytes, suggesting that immunotherapy strategies might improve prognosis. However, checkpoint inhibitor therapies have so far been of limited success, in contrast with other types of cancers such as melanoma. There is therefore an unmet need for the development of complimentary immunotherapeutic strategies.
The project now funded by Ovarian Cancer Action aims to establish a translation-ready therapeutic platform for treating ovarian cancer patients. The project will focus on adoptive T cell therapies, where patient T cells are expanded in vitro and then re-administered to the patient, with the aim of enhancing the immune response to the tumour. Adoptive T cell therapies have shown great promise in ovarian cancer, but specificity and efficacy are still lacking. This project will specifically look at the selection, isolation and expansion of neo-epitope-specific T cells, and will take advantage of the Cerundolo group’s expertise on immunotherapy and the Ahmed group’s work on ovarian cancer genomics and human organoids.
“We are very excited for winning this award. This work will enable us to investigate novel immunotherapeutic approaches for treating ovarian cancer patients.” said Prof Ahmed. The announcement was made at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Awards Ceremony last week, hosted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
A PhD studentship is currently available to contribute to this project, with an application deadline of the 10th of January. Prospective applicants can find more information about this opportunity here.