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How tumour resistance is driven after administration of adoptive T-cell therapies in solid cancers

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Sunday, 31 January 2021
Academic background
Health Sciences
Host campus
Postgraduate Diploma, Honours, Master’s
Pathology (Dunedin)
Dr Kunyu Li, Professor Antony Braithwaite


Adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT) that treat cancer using patients’ own T cells is the most advanced personalised cancer treatment and has been showing promising clinical outcome in patients with late-stage lymphoma. However, the application of ACT in solid cancers is far less successful. Unlike haematological cancer, solid cancers consist of a tumour microenvironment (TME) to support tumour resistance to all treatments including the ACT.

Previous studies by Dr. Kunyu Li showed that ACT in mice bearing a subcutaneous melanoma induced a differential pattern of tumour remission followed by a steady relapse, or repeated remission and relapse over a long period of time. These observations suggest that the tumour cells had evolved to avoid being detected or killed during the prolonged battle with immune cells.

In this research, we wish to investigate how tumour killing by adoptively transferred of tumour-reactive T cells might drive their adaptation through the program of epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT) to allow resistance and subsequent relapse.

Students with substantial knowledge in immunology and cancer biology are desired. Having some related laboratory skills and experience, such as cell culture, flow cytometry analysis, animal handling, would be a bonus. However, training will be provided.


Kunyu Li
Tel   +64 3 479 7169