University of West Australia Researcher Receives Funds targeting Immunotherapy & Mesothelioma in Western Australia

Mar 6, 2020 | Australia, Cancer, Immunotherapy, Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, Oncology

University of West Australia Researcher Receives Funds targeting Immunotherapy & Mesothelioma in Western Australia

Cancer Council Western Australia (CCWA) and Reflections donated nearly a quarter million dollars to support Dr. Jonathan Chee’s Postdoctoral Fellowship titled “Cracking the code to successful cancer immunotherapy.” Chee, a promising young clinical investigator in Australia, aims to use his research to predict and improve outcomes of future treatment. Namely, he seeks to discover which types of mesothelioma patients could benefit from immunotherapy as well as develop ways to predict and prevent bad reactions from the treatment.

Charitable Organizations in Australia Giving to Research

Cancer Council Western Australia, also known as Cancer Council WA, a national non-profit patient advocacy organization, has eight chapters across Australia including the Western Australia organization. It seeks to reduce illness caused by cancer in Australia though a number of initiatives and programs, including the support of cancer research. 

As it turns out, one person dies every 12 hours in Australia from mesothelioma and an estimated 4,000 a year from asbestos-related industries. Western Australia ultimately has the highest mesothelioma rates in the world and likely the most in-situ asbestos of all the Australian States. Hence, the mission of Perth-based Reflections aims to reduce the impact of asbestos-related illness in the western region of Down Under.

Dr. Chee’s Progress

Thus far, Chee has been studying how well various types of cancers (in animals) responds to immunotherapy. By leveraging accumulated sets of data, he also can leverage new mathematical tools to “Interrogate how changes in the immune system can predict immunotherapy outcomes.” His two primary research aims include:

·       Developing novel immune biomarkers of response to immunotherapy in mesothelioma

·       Developing a personalized therapeutic vaccine targeting mutated cancer antigens

Chee has been able to evidence success in demonstrating that immunotherapy outcomes are reliant on dynamic changes that occur in the immune system within a tumor before and after treatment. By employing new mathematical methods, the young researcher has been able to detect possible predictors of immunotherapy responses while he is now extending the study to patient blood samples from a recently completed clinical trial.

In regard to the development of the new vaccine targeting mutated cancer antigens, Chee has found that the vaccine was not able to protect from cancerous tumor growth. Hence, he and research team are focusing on how to improve vaccine strategies.

A Dynamic Young Researcher

Out of University of West Australia (UWA), Chee has been extremely active with core research not to mention mentoring undergraduates in forming a partnering with University of Pennsylvania researchers focused on the study of immunosequencing data derived from melanoma patients that underwent personalized vaccination. Moreover, Chee has been engaging with community via organizations such as the Ban Asbestos Network and the Asbestos Victims Association in South Australia.

Lead Research/Investigator

Jonathan Chee, University of West Australia

Source: Refections