Langerhans Cell Histocytosis

LCH is a rare cancer-like disease that mostly affects infants and children but can also occur in adults. Lesions can infiltrate any organ of the body, which can result in bone lesions and scarring of vital organs. Our research has the potential to unlock broad new findings to better understand LCH and other diseases involving the immune system, such as cancer and autoimmunity.

This research is directed towards understanding the basic biology of histiocytic diseases. We have been studying a human form of histiocytosis called Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) for many years. In this disease, cells called Langerhans cells accumulate in various tissues to form cancer-like lesions. The causes and mechanisms controlling the development of LCH are presently unknown.

Researchers at the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute have made progress in understanding how a specific type of immune cell is involved in the development of lesions associated with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) lesions.

This research has been recently recognised and published in international medical journal, Clinical Immunology. It is hoped that these findings will lead to a better way to treat patients with LCH.

Professor George Kannourakis, Honorary Director at FECRI, and an Oncologist and Haematologist with years of experience in treating and monitoring patients with LCH, has worked with researchers and clinicians around the world on this condition. The immunology-based research led by Professor Kannourakis at the Ballarat based Institute, has advanced the understanding of LCH and created promising leads on how we can target the immune system to combat this.

Recently published results of work undertaken by Dr Jenee Mitchell, has highlighted a new mechanism of how a specific immune cell, called Tregs, may be involved in the development and progression of lesions in the condition. It is hoped that these findings will lead to better way to treat patients with LCH, and maybe useful to treat other cancers and inflammatory conditions that result in tissue damage.

This research has identified immune cells ‘Treg lymphocytes’ within LCH lesions as the producers of a potent inflammatory response, called TGFbeta, which is thought to contribute to the intense tissue damage seen in this disorder, and targeting this offers potential options for treatment.

Photo- Professor George Kannourakis and Dr Jenee Mitchell. Photo by The Courier


Group Leaders
  • Professor George Kannourakis
  • Dr. Jenee Mitchell
  • Dr. Sharon Olsen
PhD Candidates