Do differences in the primary tumour microenvironment and immune response in peripheral blood predict melanoma relapse?

This PhD project is based at the University of Manchester with a 12 month stay at University of Melbourne.

Project Description:

Management of resected early stage melanoma remains a challenge. For these patients, individual recurrence risk is low with >75% of patients alive at 10 years. However, these patients account for ~50% of people who subsequently develop metastases and die. It is critical to understand better why some melanomas go on to metastasise, whilst others are cured by surgery alone. In addition, biomarkers are needed that can provide an early prediction of which patients will be cured versus those who need additional monitoring or treatment. This project brings together research teams in Manchester UK and Melbourne Australia to perform an in-depth analysis of the tumour associated adaptive immune system and its association with disease relapse to identify biomarkers for early detection and prediction of recurrence. Ultra-high multiplex imaging of the tumour immune and stromal environment will be performed together with T-cell receptor sequencing to interrogate how differences in the tumour microenvironment at surgery affect likelihood of melanoma relapse. Identified tumour associated T-cell clones will be tracked in longitudinally collected peripheral blood samples to determine how these change in response to disease progression and whether they provide an early indication of relapse. The student will work closely with scientists from other disciplines including pathology, statistics and bioinformatics and with clinical teams. They will have the opportunity to work on samples collected from large clinical cohorts of patients and as part of a Phase III international trial. They will be an integral part of an inclusive, international and multi-disciplinary team working together to translate research findings to the clinic.

Supervision team:

Prof Caroline Dive, Dr Elaine Kilgour, Prof Paul Lorigan (University of Manchester)

Prof Sarah-Jane Dawson,  Dr Stephen WongA/Prof Shahneen Sandhu (University of Melbourne)