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The immunological effects of gene variants unique to Māori and Pacific peoples

36 months
Approved budget:
Mr Chris Puliuvea
Health issue:
Cancer (oncology)
Proposal type:
Pacific Health PhD Scholarship
Lay summary
This Tongan applicant primarily grew up in NZ but remains strongly connected with his pacific heritage and community. His objectives are to obtain a PhD in cancer research as the first step towards a career in this area. This would enable him to follow his strong passion to help his community by helping to provide better cancer treatments for them and for all people. He is interested in unleashing a patient’s own immune cells to be more effective at fighting cancer. These cells can be used in a therapy known as adoptive immunotherapy which is showing great results in clinical trials but which can be improved upon. We plan to use state-of-the-art gene editing methods to improve the cells used in this therapy. Our first targets are melanoma and EBV-related cancers which are of specific concern to Pacific Island people.