Publish Date: 
Tuesday, January 2, 2024 - 14:30

Advancing personalised cancer vaccines and therapies

Immunologist Dr Jazmina Gonzalez Cruz is leading a pioneering research program to identify and design personalised cancer treatments.

Based at TRI with the Frazer Institute, The University of Queensland, Jazmina leads the Cancer Immunology and Therapy Group, which is developing innovative approaches to de-risk the design process and accelerate the production of personalised cancer vaccines.

According to Jazmina, while there is a substantial effort required to establish the necessary infrastructure for her vaccine work, it will be applicable across many cancers.

“Our current focus is on cancers where we believe we can make the most significant impact,” Jazmina said.

“This includes childhood leukemia, an emerging type of throat cancer called Oropharyngeal Squamous cell carcinoma, and the skin cancer, cutaneous Squamous cell carcinoma,” she said.

Jazmina is also employing cutting-edge spatial-omics techniques to gain new insights into cell distribution and interactions within each tumour.

“Spatial omics enables us to unravel the complexities of cancer and immune system interactions within patients’ tumours.

“Our ultimate goal is to leverage these findings to identify and design novel drugs aimed at bolstering immune function in affected patients.”

In addition, Jazmina is leading the translational aspect of the Metro South Health-sponsored DESQUAMATE clinical trial.

The Australian-first Phase II clinical trial is using the immunotherapy Pembrolizumab to treat skin cancer patients.

“It’s exciting to be leading research which is helping to make impactful strides from bench to bedside in the field of cancer research,” Jazmina said.