Dr Ashleigh Poh - ONJCRI

Dr Ashleigh Poh - ONJCRI

Start Time: 
Wed, 08/12/2021 - 9:30am
End Time: 
Wed, 08/12/2021 - 10:30am

WEHI Onco-Immunology Seminar hosted by Sarah Best & Ryan Cross

Dr Ashleigh Poh

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cancer and Inflammation Laboratory, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute


Targeting macrophages in cancer: Therapeutic opportunities and challenges


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Including Q&A Session


Dr Ashleigh Poh is an early career investigator at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute. She received her PhD from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in December 2017. Her research was the first to identify a tumour-promoting role for the myeloid-specific kinase HCK signalling in solid cancers by enhancing the immunosuppressive phenotype of myeloid cells (Poh et. al, Cancer Cell 2017 & Cancer Immunology Research 2020). These discoveries have leveraged major industry-related partnerships with The Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx) and the Australian Government-supported National Drug Discovery Centre at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne to develop small molecule HCK inhibitors for clinical use.

Macrophages are a major component of the tumor microenvironment and orchestrate various aspects of immunity. Within tumors, macrophages can reversibly alter their endotype in response to environmental cues, including hypoxia and stimuli derived from other immune cells, as well as the extracellular matrix. Depending on their activation status, macrophages can exert dual influences on tumorigenesis by either antagonizing the cytotoxic activity immune cells or by enhancing antitumor responses. In most solid cancers, increased infiltration with tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) has long been associated with poor patient prognosis, highlighting their value as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in cancer.

A number of macrophage-centered approaches to anticancer therapy have been investigated, and include strategies to block their tumor-promoting activities or exploit their antitumor effector functions. Integrating therapeutic strategies to target TAMs to complement conventional therapies has yielded promising results in preclinical trials and warrants further investigation to determine its translational benefit in human cancer patients. This talk will provide an overview of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pro-tumorigenic programming of macrophages, and provide a comprehensive update of macrophage-targeted therapies for the treatment of solid cancers.


All welcome!