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James McAuliffe

DPhil student

Research interests

Recent major clinical breakthroughs in the field of immunotherapy have shown the great potential of harnessing the immune system to treat cancer. These therapies, most notably immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs), have been shown to reject tumours and greatly extend patient survival. However, this has so far been limited to a minority of patients. Tumour-specific CD8+ T-cells (CTLs) are thought to be essential for bringing about immune-mediated tumour rejection and CPIs are thus only effective in patients with pre-existing anti-tumour CTL responses. Vaccines that generate such responses against tumours de novo could therefore serve as effective cancer treatments.

To generate effective anti-tumour immunity it is necessary to target tumour specific antigens and in the Van den Eynde lab, we focus on a class known as MAGE-type antigens. The aim of my research therefore is to evaluate the therapeutic potential of a novel vaccination strategy to target MAGE-expressing tumours. The vaccination platform consists of a heterologous prime-boost using different recombinant viral vectors, which has been optimised to induce potent CTL responses. This work involves testing the immunogenicity of these MAGE-targeting viral-vectored vaccines and evaluating their therapeutic efficacy using mouse tumour models, either alone or in combination with other therapies such as CPIs.

Background

I graduated with a first class BSc in Biochemistry from the University of York in 2015. During this time I spent a year at the University of Manchester’s MCCIR doing a research project investigating the mechanisms of innate immune regulation in the airways. As my main scientific interests during this time were in the areas of immunology and cancer biology, this led me to join the Ludwig Institute in 2015 to undertake a DPhil project in the field of tumour immunology.

Recent publications

More publications