Dolcetti Laboratory: Clinical and Translational Immunotherapy

Research Overview

View Professor Dolcetti's latest PubMed publications listing here.

The Dolcetti lab performs pre-clinical and clinical research aimed at improving the applicability and efficacy of cancer immunotherapy with particular focus on antigen-specific strategies. The lab has particular expertise in the identification and functional validation of immunogenic tumour antigens, which are exploited within novel immunotherapeutic approaches (cancer vaccines, cell-based immunotherapy) and in clinically applicable immunoassays to monitor tumour-specific immune responses in cancer patients.

The research activities of the lab focus on breast cancer, melanoma, primary and metastatic brain tumours and virus-driven malignancies. To overcome immunotherapy resistance and local immunosuppression typically associated with tumour progression, the lab is also exploring novel combination therapies, including cell- and gene- based strategies for the tumour targeted delivery of biomolecules to restore anti-tumour immunity. Proof of feasibility, efficacy, and safety, as well as insights into therapy induced immune modulation are provided using both murine and humanised models of primary and metastatic tumours. The lab is located in the VCCC Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy on Level 13 of the VCCC building.

Main research themes in our laboratory include:

  • Pre- clinical exploitation of a novel nanoparticle-based vaccination platform targeting cross-presenting Clec9A+ dendritic cells in vivo, particularly in combination with checkpoint modulators and CAR T cell therapies.
  • Identification and characterisation of novel classes of tumour neo-antigens to improve cancer immunotherapy.
  • Identification and pre-clinical exploitation of novel immunotherapeutic targets for the treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumours.
  • Clinical application of advanced assays to monitor anti-tumour immune responses in cancer patients enrolled in immunotherapy trials.
  • Development of an engineered monocyte-based platform for efficient intra-tumour delivery of biomolecules able to revert local immunosuppression.
  • Development of new strategies to overcome immunotherapy resistance.
  • Development and application of humanised mouse models to investigate the in vivo immunogenicity of human tumour antigens and the efficacy of immunotherapeutic strategies.

Staff

Dr. Roberta Mazzieri, Senior Scientist

Dr. Bijun Zeng, Senior Post-Doctoral fellow

Mr. Davide Moi, Senior Research Assistant

Ms. Ritu Bhatt, Senior Research Assistant

Collaborators

Professor Joseph Trapani, The University of Melbourne and Director, Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Associate Professor Paul Neeson, The University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Associate Professor Michael Kershaw, The University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Dr Clare Slaney, The University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Dr Nicole Haynes, The University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Dr Mohamed Fared, The University of Melbourne and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Professor Sudha Rao, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane

Professor Kum Kum Khanna, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane

Sunil Lakhani, University of Queensland

Dr Jodi Saunus, University of Queensland

Professor Nikolas Haass, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Associate Professor Fiona Simpson, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Dr Fernando Guimaraes, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Dr Snehlata Kumari, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Dr Jazmina Gonzalez Cruz, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Professor Brian Gabrielli, Mater Research Institute, Brisbane

Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera, Queensland University of Technology

Associate Professor Paul Leo, Queensland University of Technology

Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort, University of Western Australia

Associate Professor Daniel Kolarich, Griffith University

Professor Antony Purcell, Monash University

Dr Pouya Faridi, Monash University

Associate Professor Erica Sloan, Monash University

Professor Arnaldo Caruso, University of Brescia, Italy

Professor Antonio Rosato, University of Padova, Italy

Professor Anita De Rossi, University of Padova, Italy

Dr Stefania Zanussi, CRO-National Cancer Institute, Aviano, Italy

Dr Valli De Re, CRO-National Cancer Institute, Aviano, Italy

Funding

2021-2023 National Breast Cancer Foundation, Investigator Initiated Scheme. Exploitation of the immunogenicity of CEP55 to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy for triple-negative breast cancer. (PI: KK Khanna, Co-I: R. Dolcetti and R. Mazzieri) Awarded $310,497.39

2020-2023 NHMRC Ideas Grant. Reprogramming anti-tumour therapy responses by locus-selective manipulation of the epigenome in breast cancer. (CIA: P. Blancafort; CIB: R. Dolcetti, CIC: R. Mazzieri). Awarded $1,438,750

2020-2023 National Breast Cancer Foundation. New immunotherapeutic options for triple-negative and brain metastatic breast cancer: next-generation cancer vaccines exploiting alternative classes of tumour antigens. (PI: R. Mazzieri, CoI: R. Dolcetti). Awarded $1,000,000

2019-2021 Cancer Council Queensland. (APP1165064). Strategies to overcome immune-resistance to cancer vaccines. (Role: CIA: R. Dolcetti, CIB: R. Mazzieri). Awarded $200,000

2018-2022 National Breast Cancer Foundation, Investigator Initiated Scheme. New strategies to improve personalised immunotherapy of breast cancer. (PI: R. Dolcetti, CoI: R. Mazzieri). Awarded $1,007,713

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Projects



Faculty Research Themes

School Research Themes

Cancer in Biomedicine, Therapeutics & Translation



Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Head of Laboratory Professor Riccardo Dolcetti

Department / Centre

Microbiology and Immunology

Unit / Centre

Dolcetti Laboratory: Clinical and Translational Immunotherapy

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