Alex Staudacher

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Dr Alex Staudacher
Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Translational Oncology Laboratory, SA Pathology.
In a bench to bedside effort, researchers in the Translational Oncology Laboratory are applying advances in immunotherapeutic technologies to the treatment of melanoma, ovarian, brain and lung cancers, which affect millions around the world. The two major technologies of interest are antibody therapies using antibody drug conjugates and radioimmunotherapy to target and kill cancer cells, and chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) for re-directing lymphocytes toward cancers.
We are developing pre-clinical and clinical approaches for the treatment of these cancers to aid in diagnosis, therapy monitoring and treatment. Much of our research is collaborative, working in association with the RAH Cancer Clinical Trials Unit and partnering with other laboratories within the Centre for Cancer Biology and SAHMRI as well as national and international collaborations.
Projects in our Laboratory cover the development of novel non-invasive imaging techniques to monitor responses to anti-cancer therapy, using radiolabelled antibodies to target and irradiate tumours from the inside out, identifying novel targets and payloads for antibody drug conjugate therapy and using the bodies own immune system to kill cancer cells through immunotherapy and CAR T-cell therapy.

Research Project 1

Title: Developing novel therapies for imaging and treating cancer

Project description:

Lung cancer and ovarian cancer are two cancer types with poor treatment outcomes.  Antibodies, which specifically target tumour cells, can be harnessed for the detection and eradication of specific tumour cells.  We are currently developing two novel antibodies which can be used as predictive markers of tumour response to treatment.  We can also harness these antibodies to deliver potent drugs or radiation directly to the tumour site, resulting in greater tumour treatment with less off-target toxicity.

This project will focus on the in vitro and in vivo development of these two antibodies to firstly use them to predict treatment response to chemotherapy using live animal positron emission tomography (PET) and to then use these antibodies as a therapy to treat cancer as antibody drug conjugates or as radioimmunotherapy.


Research Project 2

Title: Non-invasive tracking of CAR T-cells to predict response to therapy

Project description: Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are immune cells which have been reprogrammed to target and kill cancer cells.  Currently, there is no real-time, non-invasive method to track these cells when they are re-infused back into the patient to understand how well they target the tumour.  For this reason, we are developing new ways to radiolabel CAR T-cells that will allow them to be non-invasively tracked in mouse tumour models through positron emission tomography (PET).      

This project will involve the development of novel CAR T-cells for treating solid tumours, in vitro validation, radiolabelling CAR T-cells for in vivo tracking and testing the anti-tumour efficacy of these CAR T-cells in mouse tumour models.

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