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Eileen Parkes

Eileen Parkes

RESEARCH THEMES

Radiation-Immune Interactions (Co-Investigator)

MRC ICASE PARTNERSHIP - Student Project:
Using oncolytic viral therapy to target the tumour microenvironment in chromosomally unstable cancers

Commercial partner Theolytics have identified and developed novel oncolytic viral therapeutics shortly entering the clinical setting. However, the behaviour of these therapeutic agents in a fibroblast-rich, immunosuppressed tumour microenvironment is not currently known and of key interest as these are typically cancers resistant to other immunotherapeutic approaches. In this project, using their lead therapeutic candidates, 2D and 3D co-culture models will be used to characterise the relationship between tumour cell characteristics, fibroblast phenotype and response to oncolytic viral therapy.

Eileen Parkes

MB BCh, Ba(O) (Hons), MRCP (Onc), PhD


Group leader, Innate tumour immunology

  • Consultant Medical Oncologist, Early Phase Trials

RESEARCH SUMMARY

Develop rational immuno-oncology combination approaches;

Understand resistance mechanisms to immune-targeting treatments in cancer;

Characterise the role of DNA repair deficiency and immune activation in tumour initiation, progression and response.


In the Parkes Lab we study intrinsic inflammatory pathways in cancer. These are important immune pathways, present in all cells, that act as emergency response pathways to viral infection. However, in cancer, these pathways can be rewired and hijacked by the tumour to promote growth, invasion and metastasis. 

Previously we have identified the importance of the STING pathway in DNA repair deficient cancer. We also know that the STING pathway can be used to drive metastatic spread in some cases.  As the STING pathway is crucial for response to standard anti-cancer therapy as well as newer immunotherapies, understanding how this pathway is rewired in cancer can help us develop new treatment approaches. 

We take a multi-pronged approach to answer the important question of immune activation in cancer - working in vitro, in vivo and with samples donated from people with cancer.

As part of the Parkes Lab, you will develop a clear understanding of the translational relevance of your work. Students and staff are encouraged to take full advantage of career development opportunities - improving not just the breadth and depth of scientific skills but also developing communication and leadership skills.

BIOGRAPHY

Dr Parkes trained at Queens University Belfast, completing her oncology fellowship training at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre. During her training she was awarded a CRUK clinical fellowship, and completed her DPhil in the Kennedy lab, studying the immune consequences of DNA repair deficiency. During this time she discovered constitutive STING signaling in DNA repair deficient cancers. She now focuses on understanding how to exploit the consequences of STING signaling for clinical benefit.

GROUP MEMBERS

Su Phyu, Post Doc

Emma Murphy, Postdoctoral Researcher

Becky Sipthorpe, Research Technician

Bruno Beernaert Dominguez, DPhil student

Jamie Kwon, DPhil student

SongLiang Du, DPhil student