About Liam Tremble
Liam is a PhD student with the Electroporation and Immunotherapy group at the Cork Cancer Research Centre. His research is focused on determining how tumours can suppress the immune system and finding novel ways to interfere with this process. He is hoping to improve treatment for patients with advanced melanoma by biomarkers that identify individuals likely to benefit from immunotherapy, and to develop a novel gene therapy that aims to interfere with how tumours create an immune suppressed environment.
Theme / Team
Liam Tremble graduated with a 2.I honours BSc in Immunology from Trinity College Dublin in 2013, and went on to complete a MSc in Translational Oncology in 2016. He was recruited to the CCRC in 2016 to investigate immunotherapy opportunities in melanoma.
To avoid destruction by the immune system, tumours actively suppress the immune system by recruiting specific cell types from the blood to the tumour and by secreting immunosuppressive factors. The aim of Liam’s project is to identify steps in this process which can be interfered with, and to develop an antibody based therapy that can effectively target this process and increase survival for patients. His project is being aimed specifically against melanoma but it is hoped that the system developed will offer significant opportunity to combat other cancer types.
To ensure his work in the lab is transferable to melanoma patients, he is working closely with oncologists and surgeons at CUH and Mercy Hospital to identify biomarkers of response in patients receiving immunotherapy. Early stage melanomas have a very good patient prognosis, but those that present with late stage disease have historically had very few treatment options as melanoma is refractory to almost all chemotherapies. However, over the course of the last 7 years new targeted therapies such as BRAF and MEK inhibitors have offered signnificnt improvement in the treatment of these individuals, but these drugs are only effective for those with BRAF positive melanomas which account for only 70% of melanomas. Another treatment offered to both BRAF positive and negative individuals is immunotherapy. And while patients can achieve long term curative outcomes from immunotherapies, the response rates typically range between just 20-50%.
Currently it is not possible to predict who will and who will not respond to immunotherapy. Liam’s work is aimed at identifying biomarkers in patients that may predict response to immunotherapies, and treatment regimens that could prime the tumour to respond better to immunotherapies.