Cancer, Ageing and Vaccines Research Group

The Cancer, Ageing and Vaccines Laboratory (CAVA) develops solutions to major diseases through innovative research in immunology, genetics, bioinformatics and clinical trials.

The CAVA Lab, led by Distinguished Professor Magdalena Plebanski uses insights from immunology to address health needs in cancer, vaccination and healthy ageing.

  • We are committed to changing the extremely low survival outcomes from ovarian cancer, by improving early detection and personalising therapy. Led by Dr April Kartikasari, we use epigenetics to identify new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in blood and work with nanoengineers to develop practical point-of-care devices to detect them.
  • One of our patented biomarkers is currently being evaluated in a Phase II human clinical trial across 15 Australian hospitals (SOLACE2). We are also developing alternative treatments, from new immunotherapies to gold-based compounds, with collaborators across RMIT and globally.
  • We study the impact of ageing, gender, diet and mood on the immune system. For example, Fulbright-Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Jessica Lockery studies how genetic abnormalities alter the effect of aspirin on bowel cancer development in older people.
  • CAVA seeks to improve COVID-19 and influenza vaccines for vulnerable groups such as older adults or pregnant women. Dr Kirsty Wilson and Dr Jennifer Boer lead this research, profiling immunity with ‘omics’ across multiple large scale human clinical trials.
  • We also design our own innovative synthetic nanoparticle vaccines. Vice-Chancellor Fellow Dr David Yi Ju investigates the relationships between protein corona and association of particles with human immune cells, and Dr Kirsty Wilson leads work to enhance immune responses using novel nanoparticle and adjuvant combinations in vaccines.
  •  We assess the immune response to COVID19 and its immunological side effects (long-COVID19 & post-COVID19) as well as COVID19 vaccines in vulnerable populations.

Projects

Stream 1

The effect of age, sex, diet and mood on the immune response

Stream 2

Utilising nanoparticles in vaccine development and medicine

Stream 3

Improving diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer and other cancers

Stream 4

Understanding COVID-19 and improving our immune response to vaccines

Abstract DNA technology. Science medical concept

Translational Immunology and Nanotechnology

Our research group sits within the ‘Translational Immunology and Nanotechnology’ (TIN) Theme. This theme was created to drive innovation in omics/precision medicine, nanotechnology and point-of-care devices.

Get in touch

 

For more information, contact our lovely lab administrators at CAVA@rmit.edu.au

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.