Studying Inflammatory Pathways in Cancer
In the Parkes Lab we study intrinsic inflammatory pathways in cancer. These are important immune pathways, present in all cells, that act as emergency response pathways to viral infection. However, in cancer, these pathways can be rewired and hijacked by the tumour to promote growth, invasion and metastasis.
Previously we have identified the importance of the STING pathway in DNA repair deficient cancer. We also know that the STING pathway can be used to drive metastatic spread in some cases. As the STING pathway is crucial for response to standard anti-cancer therapy as well as newer immunotherapies, understanding how this pathway is rewired in cancer can help us develop new treatment approaches.
We take a multi-pronged approach to answer the important question of immune activation in cancer - working in vitro, in vivo and with samples donated from people with cancer.
Dr Parkes was the first to describe constitutive innate immune signalling in BRCA1/2 mutant cancers activating cGAS-STING signalling. This work has subsequently led to a clinical trial investigating a biomarker for BRCA1/2 deficiency in breast cancer, as well as interest in the action of STING agonists in BRCA1/2 mutant disease. Her work on ENPP1 and chromosomal instability identified a novel mechanism whereby cGAS-cGAMP-STING signalling can be subverted to result in tumour-mediated immunosuppression. She is an international expert on cGAS-STING signalling in cancer and the impact of this signalling on the tumour microenvironment.
As part of the Parkes Lab, you will develop a clear understanding of the translational relevance of your work. Students and staff are encouraged to take full advantage of career development opportunities - improving not just the breadth and depth of scientific skills but also developing communication and leadership skills.
Kathy Chan - Post-Doctoral Researcher
Su Phyu - Post-Doctoral Researcher
Bruno Beernaert - DPhil student
Matt Jackson - DPhil student
Jamie Kwon - DPhil student
Kay Shigemori -DPhil student
Ashley Jackson - MRes student
Subashan Vadibeler - MRes student
Tong Liu - Visiting researcher