Cancer immunotherapy has shown remarkable therapeutic success in multiple cancers, particularly melanoma. However, only a fraction of cancer patients respond to immunotherapy and currently there is no easy and non-invasive way to predict before treatment whether a patient is going to respond well to immunotherapy. To meet this need, my research is focused on analysing circulating molecules in the blood of cancer patients to determine whether the presence of certain molecules pre-treatment, or changes in these molecules during treatment, is predictive of a patient’s response to immunotherapy. If successful, this will help to ensure that patients who are likely to respond to cancer immunotherapy can be identified pre-treatment and potentially monitored during treatment to non-invasively track prognosis.
I recently graduated from the University of Bath with a Master’s degree in Pharmacology, during which I specialised in cancer immunology. This Master’s included an industrial placement year at GlaxoSmithKline in the Experimental Medicine Unit of the ImmunoInflammation Department. During this placement I worked closely with a clinical team to investigate the impact of the cytokine B cell activating factor (BAFF) on the regulatory capacity of human B cells, with the aim of determining whether therapeutically targeting BAFF would be a suitable therapy to prevent rejection of transplanted kidneys. As a PhD student, my current scientific interest is primarily focused on immune tolerance, particularly in the context of cancer.