Dr Nicolas Jacquelot

Investigating regulation of the immune system in melanoma

Nicolas’s research grant is co-funded with Cancer Australia.

Nicolas is a researcher at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Born in France, he completed his degree in 2016 at the University Paris-Saclay and has long been fascinated by how the human body works and by how its processes can be regulated.

The Research

The ability of tumours to ‘escape’ their location and metastasise is a major limiting factor for the survival of melanoma patients. The prognosis for people with this skin cancer in its late stage still remains very poor. For many, there is no cure, but Nicolas is determined to give these patients hope.

The melanoma tumour mass is composed of many different cell types, including immune cells. Despite the essential role they can play in eliminating cancer cells, these are often ‘unarmed’ and therefore don’t do their job. In certain cases, they even help tumours to grow.

In his current work, Nicolas seeks to understand how we can boost white blood cells – also known as immune cells – with the eventual goal of eradicating the disease altogether. He aims to identify specific immune cell types, and potential markers in them, that can be targeted to reinstate an efficient anti-melanoma response. 

The Importance of Funding

Despite the great progress that’s been made over the past decade in melanoma treatment, still fewer than half of patients will respond to drugs currently available. ‘Unfortunately, government support is not enough, so fundraising is essential to help researchers reach their goals and make discoveries that can help them,’ says Nicolas.

He is proud of his Cure Cancer grant, which he views as a key step in his early scientific career. ‘There are many excellent young investigators with great projects that deserve to be funded, yet it’s always hard for them to get funding.’

‘You can’t achieve anything working alone or without support. Science and discoveries are about sharing and communicating your work and your ideas. Together we can change the prognosis for this disease and find cures. This requires hard work, collaboration, ethics, respect and, most importantly, passion because we dedicate so much of our time to our projects.”

‘We have to maintain hope, in treatments and medical research!’