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Immune Profiling and Immunotherapy for High-Risk Paediatric Sarcomas

Centre for Childhood Cancer Research

, Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Sarcomas are a diverse group of connective tissue tumours that account for ~10% of childhood cancers. However, they are relatively understudied and poorly understood. There is a distinct lack of targeted and effective treatments for children with high-risk tumours. Outcomes remain poor for these patients, with <30% chance of survival. This project aims to improve treatment of these high-risk sarcomas by harnessing a patient’s own immune response to improve their survival and quality of life.

In Aim 1, we will intensively examine the immune microenvironments of high-risk sarcoma patients enrolled in the ZERO Childhood Cancer Program, by combining DNA and RNA sequencing analysis with multiplex immunohistochemistry. This unique and complex dataset will allow us, for the first time, to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the immune profiles of high-risk paediatric sarcomas, identifying subsets of immune-inflamed “hot” and non-inflamed “cold” tumours, and pinpointing the most clinically relevant and targetable immune checkpoints.

In Aim 2, this data will be used to inform the design of new immunotherapeutic strategies to test in pre-clinical immunocompetent models of sarcomas, initially in fusion-positive and fusion-negative models of rhabdomyosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. We expect that immune-inflamed “hot” tumours will respond well to immune checkpoint inhibitors as monotherapy, while non-inflamed “cold” tumours will require combination therapy with other immunomodulatory drugs to achieve optimal results.

This research project will present a new paradigm for the treatment of high-risk sarcomas, with the long-term goal of translating immune profile-based treatment approaches into the clinic in a personalised setting.

Funding Notes

To help us determine your suitability for postgraduate studies with us could you please send through a copy of your full academic transcript.
All students at the Institute must fulfil the requirements for enrolment at UNSW to undertake their PhD with us as well as obtain a scholarship that will cover both your living expenses and tuition fees. Scholarship and entry requirements will be provided on request.

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