My research goal is to find the most effective cancer treatment for each individual cancer patient using the patient’s own immune responses.
I would like the oncologist to be able to tell their patient that they can provide a personalised treatment regimen and to use that patient's own immune response to do it. This gives everybody a feeling of ownership over their outcome and hopefully a sense of control over their treatment in a very confusing and upsetting time.
Cancer Research Trust New Zealand has supported Dr Kemp’s research, which has mainly focused on colorectal cancer, for many years to identify and understand immune responses to offer patients better diagnoses, prognoses and treatment.
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.
Dr Kemp is using these new technologies - mass cytometry and multiplex imaging - to study multiple proteins on individual cells, but with the ability to look at multiple cells in one experiment.
This means that we can look at all of those cells and molecules in the context of all the other ones. These technologies have never been used in colorectal cancer,” she says. “Our research is immediately applicable to patients, as well as providing new ideas for further research in the field.
The support from Cancer Research Trust New Zealand has been essential for establishing my research programme and for supporting a new generation of cancer researchers, she said.