Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of immune cells known for their potent cancer-killing ability, but under some circumstances cancer cells are able to avoid elimination by immune cells, including by NK cells. How cancers do this is not entirely understood, so Dr. Mark Smyth is investigating a particular protein—TGF-B—that appears to render NK cells ineffective against tumors, by converting them into a type of immune cell that may actually help promote tumor growth. Specifically, Dr. Smyth is further probing this NK cell conversion to understand the molecular mechanisms that control this process as well as its consequences on overall immune activity. Additionally, he’s devised and is testing new strategies that block TGF-B’s effects on NK cells in order to determine the effectiveness of this potentially new class of immunotherapies.
Projects and Grants
Targeting NK cell differentiation in cancer
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (Australia) | All Cancers | 2017
The pre-clinical validation of CD96 as a checkpoint target for cancer immunotherapy
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (Australia) | Breast Cancer, Leukemia, Lung Cancer, Melanoma | 2015
Targeting adenosine in the tumor microenvironment
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (Australia) | All Cancers, Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Melanoma | 2015
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