Stories

New technology used in the fight against colorectal cancer

Cancer Research Trust NZ has once again supported the work of Cancer Immunologist, Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp, whose latest research sees her and her team using new technology to analyse how the immune response in colorectal cancer affects patient outcomes.

“The Trust has supported our research programme from the beginning – from fundamental discoveries about how the immune system works in cancer, to the development of new pre-clinical models and to the impact of the local immune response in patient outcome,” said Dr Kemp.

“We have been lucky to have the support of a funding body that recognises the importance of new and emerging technologies, and funding we have received has allowed us to establish a highly innovative research approach.”

Dr Kemp’s new research, which has received support in the form of a $71,540 Trust grant, builds on this theme of innovation and sees her and her teams use of two new imaging technologies which will allow them to visualise, in high detail, the local immune response in individual tumours. Most importantly, the funds will allow her team to directly translate this work to clinical outcome in patients.

“The different types of immune cells that are found within the tumour can have varying functions, some of which will support tumour growth, and some that will inhibit tumour growth,” explained Dr Kemp.

“Key in determining the effects of these infiltrating immune cells is understanding what effect they have on the neighbouring cells - this grant will allow us to do so.”

Cancer Research Trust New Zealand has supported Dr Kemp for many years with several grants as she and her team from Otago University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology have advanced their research. Their focus is on identifying and understanding immune responses to cancer to offer patients better diagnoses, prognoses and treatment.

Much of her work has been focused on colorectal cancer but would be applicable to many other cancers. This new grant will continue this theme and involve three PhD students – Jess Harte, Justin Tirados and Janet Rhodes.

“For scientists like me starting their own laboratory with a completely new research programme, funding from the Trust was vital,” she said. “They recognised the benefit of sponsoring risky yet innovative research, and recently awarded us another grant to use brand new technologies to study the tumour environment.”

“Without the support and constructive criticism from Cancer Research Trust NZ, I would not have achieved any of these research goals,” she said.

Dr Kemp joins 15 other recipients in the Cancer Research Trust NZ’s newly announced grant round. The grants, which total $891,000, are awarded to Kiwi researchers in order to initiate and accelerate promising cancer research in New Zealand. This is in addition to the grant round approved in March, which gave an overall commitment to fund $922,992 worth of projects for 2019.

Grants are recommended after an extensive review by a twelve-person Grants Assessment Committee, comprising of some of New Zealand’s most respected clinical and radiation oncologists, biomedical researchers, a psychologist and a senior palliative care nursing specialist.

Learn more about the 16 recently announced grants here.


DR ROSLYN KEMP

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin

$71,540

Recruitment and migration of T cells in colorectal cancer: implications for patient outcome

The immune response in colorectal cancer affects patient outcome. The different types of immune cells that are found within the tumour can have varying functions, some of which will support tumour growth, and some that will inhibit tumour growth. Key in determining the effects of these infiltrating immune cells is understanding what effect they have on the neighbouring cells. Our proposal will analyse the interactions between individual cells in the tumour and link these interactions to patient outcome.

More Research News