2015 has been a great year for Dendritic Cell Research.
DC Down Under 2015 was another great success. With over 70 delegates and 25 speakers, this was a symposium not to be missed by both young investigators and established leaders in the Dendritic Cell Research field.
The keynote speaker, Associate Professor David Avigan from Harvard Medical School did not disappoint with his talk on cancer vaccines and immunomodulatory therapy, which stimulated much discussion from delegates in the areas of dendritic cell (DC) immune therapy. Dr Clare Slaney from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre presented an inspiring talk “Eradication of large established Her2+ tumours using dual-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and vaccine”. Other fascinating talks were presented and there was much positive feedback and keen interest by the audience as to next year’s program! This year’s meeting was made even more special by the addresses given by two consumer advocates bringing scientists and patients ever closer together.
We published a landmark paper entitled Immunosuppressive human anti-CD83 monoclonal antibody depletion of activated dendritic cells in transplantation in a prestigious journal – Leukaemia. The paper describes the production of a new clinical version of the anti—CD83 antibod; ever closer to phase I trials! The paper demonstrates that this new version binds and kills the target cells more effectively. Importantly, it shows that it works in preclinical models of human stem cell transplantation to prevent GVHD and maintain an intact immune system without the need for powerful immunosuppressive drugs.
This culmination of work from around Australia is a major milestone for the development of a new first of its kind therapeutic that has the potential to change the way we manage transplantation, not only in the treatment of blood cancers but also in preventing organ rejection and limiting the severe side effect of immunosuppression. This was recognised in the award of a NHMRC Development Grant to continue the clinical translation of this product.
We even featured on Today Tonight to give our viewpoint on leading Australian research in Dendritic Cell Immunotherapy.
Our students continue to be exceptional with our three honours students each receiving First Class Honours for their work and our PhD students are striving ahead with their research making new discoveries every day. Also of note was the award of a Cancer Council NSW Fellowship to one of our postdocs.
All in all, 2015 was a great year and with more of our research being close to publication, another great symposium planned and the recruitment of two new clinical PhD students, we just know 2016 will be even better!