The Dendritic Cell Biology and Therapeutics Group (DCBTG) at the ANZAC Research Institute is a specialized facility focused on human dendritic cell (DC) research and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies.
The Group has made some of the pioneering observations on DC and is recognised internationally as a leader in the field. DCs are unique subsets of white blood cells found throughout the body. They are responsible for initiating and directing immune responses. The Group is continuing to define the human DC subsets and elaborate their functional ability to both protect the host and also to prevent self inflicted damage. The group is unraveling how DC interact with their environment via their cell surface molecules and how these molecules influence DC function. This knowledge is then used to develop antibodies for clinical applications. These are tested in preclinical models of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, leukaemia, multiple myeloma and other blood related malignancies.
The Group’s discoveries of these key biological markers and engineering of antibodies to them will, with the right partnerships, have a direct impact on the future care of patients and contribute positively to the Australian health economy.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is the most common type of adult leukaemia and affects the older age group in particular. Whilst there has been some progress in combining established chemotherapy drugs and supportive care for patients, the majority of patients still die of their disease or its complications. In particular, until they are made safer, intensive chemotherapy and transplantation are not suitable for older patients. New treatment strategies for AML are required and immune therapies that may have much fewer side effects are a very attractive option.
The Group has made some significant recent advances in the fight against leukaemia. They identified the first member of the CD300 family of molecules and have been defining and studying the biology of these molecules on white blood cells. The data suggests that antibodies targeting CD300f are effective in eliminating human AML cells in a mouse model. An effective antibody to CD300f as a validated target for AML would be a highly desirable therapeutic alternative to current chemotherapy agents. As it would be predicted to have few side effects, such an antibody would be invaluable in treating older patients.
The Group has initiated a project to complete essential preclinical work defining CD300f as a leukaemic target and to make a fully humanised anti-CD300f molecular antibody for phase 1 clinical trial. The Bendigo Bank strongly supports the local community and the work of Dendritic Cell Biology and Therapeutics Group cause to fight leukaemia.
The Bendigo Bank will embark on a collaborative journey with the DCBTG and develop a public fund raising campaign to help cure leukaemia.