A/Prof Paul Beavis

Developing immunotherapy strategies to treat cancer


Success: Received a distinguished $AU1million grant from the US Department of Defence for breast cancer research.

Cancer Type: Breast Cancer

Awarded a Cure Cancer grant in 2014 for his innovative breast cancer research, Dr Paul Beavis is now a distinguished Group Leader at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

A prestigous achievement

In 2021, the US Department of Defense (DoD) Breast Cancer Research Program awarded AU$1mn (USD$750k) to Paul and Dr Fernando Guimaraes to continue their novel work into breast cancer.

Currently, the majority of triple negative breast cancers do not respond to immunotherapy – a type of cancer treatment which triggers a patient’s own immune cells fight cancer. However, many new immunotherapeutic interventions are making a significant impact on the treatment of blood cancers, but as yet these approaches have not been tested in breast cancer.

The objective of this three-year DoD grant is to develop new strategies for the production of an immune system-derived off-the-shelf therapy to target cancer, allowing for ongoing long-term protection. This research will potentially impact those patients who have failed conventional therapies and therefore have a worse overall prognosis.

Paul, Fernando (at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute) and their teams will look at ways these successes in treating blood cancer could be applied to breast cancers. The key objectives of the project are to revolutionise treatment regimens by replacing them with ones that are more effective, less toxic, and impact survival, whilst eliminating the mortality associated with metastatic breast cancer.

As part of their research, the team will investigate whether cells derived from a donor different than the patient can be used to trigger an immune response.

‘Genetic engineering techniques have the potential to restore or augment an attack response from the immune system. We’re focusing particularly on hormone-insensitive cancers (also known as triple negative breast cancers), which currently represent approximately 10-15% of all diagnosed breast cancers. This type of disease currently has the worst prognosis for patients due to is aggressiveness,’ says Paul.

The importance of funding

UK-born and educated Paul considers it an honour to have been supported by Cure Cancer. “The grants are prestigious and very important for supporting the work of young researchers at an early stage of their development, like myself!”

“The grants are prestigious and very important for supporting the work of young researchers at an early stage of their development, like myself!”

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