Programme(s) to which this project applies:
|☑ MPhil/PhD||☒ MRes[Med]||☒ URIS|
Checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy has transformed cancer treatment over the past decade, yet it remains unclear why the majority of patients fail to respond to the therapy. Previously, we found that hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) developed a distinct population of αβ T cells that express the isoformic PD-1, namely Δ42PD-1, on their T cells including cytotoxic T lymphocytes. These Δ42PD-1+ T cells were preferentially tumour-infiltrating and correlated inversely with, but functionally more exhausted than, PD-1+ T cells. However, the role and mechanism of the upregulation of Δ42PD-1+ T cells remain elusive.
Dr ZW Tan, Department of Microbiology
Dr Tan's research interest is focused on tumour immunotherapy; the concept of harnessing the immune system to attack and eradicate tumours. Tumour cells modify internal proteins in different ways to healthy cells, a process fundamental to a cell becoming cancerous. These abnormal modifications can be recognised by T cells and his research is to develop immunotherapeutic for eliciting anti-tumour cytotoxic T cell immunity, such as tumour antigen vaccine and oncolytic virotherapy. Another focus of his research is studying the mechanisms which are exploited within the tumor microenvironment (TME) to suppress immune responses. Tumoural immune suppression is a major hurdle to permitting effective tumour immunotherapy. His current study is developing strategies to improve anti-tumour responses by targeting novel immunosuppressive molecules such as immune checkpoint receptors, or immunosuppressive cells, with a particular focus on myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC).
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