Congratulations A/Prof Radford

Tuesday 05 March 2019

Associate Professor Kristen Radford was awarded a 2019 Mater Research Strategic Grants for Outstanding Women.

A/Prof Radford has been working to develop a new vaccine for cancer with funding from two highly competitive international grants from the United States Department of Defence and from World Wide Cancer Research in the United Kingdom.

A/Prof Radford’s research focuses on creating an ‘anti-tumour vaccine’ which would enable the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells and eliminate them from the body.

This anti-tumour vaccine approach is considered a ‘therapeutic vaccine’ as it aims to treat cancer, rather than prevent it.

“It is a next-generation vaccination strategy, and would offer practical, affordable treatment for prostate cancer patients,” A/Prof Radford said.

The vaccine developed uses a specific type of immune cell, called a dendritic cell, to ‘talk’ to the rest of the immune system and direct the response against the person’s cancer cells.

“We’re in a position where we’ve got lots and lots of drugs and combinations but we can’t possibly test all the combinations clinically. 90 per cent of cancer drugs fail in the clinic and we then have a bottleneck where have discoveries but we don’t have any filter process for which ones are most likely to be safe and effective in cancer patients,” she said.

“This is a particular problem for immunotherapies because they work by stimulating your immune system. What that means is that you need to have effective preclinical models comprised of a functioning human immune system and a cancer in order to test them. We’ve developed a new separate research program to develop better preclinical models to test our vaccine and other immunotherapies.

“I’m looking forward finalising the analysis of the promising data we have generated, sharing it with the scientific and wider community and developing this further towards the clinic,” A/Prof Radford said.