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Immune Disease + Cancer

Burnet researchers are investigating why the immune system, which is supposed to ignore normal cells in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, attacks them instead. Similarly, we are also trying to understand why in cancer, the immune system ignores the cells it should attack. Additionally, we’re exploring how infectious agents are able to evade destruction by the immune system.

Our main objective is to discover new ways to treat disease by manipulating antibodies and the immune system. 

We seek to treat human diseases by applying immunology research discoveries made over three decades to develop potent new biological drugs.

Burnet's researchers are studying how antibodies - a natural product of the immune system - switch the immune system on and off and how we can use this to kill unwanted cancers and infections or prevent destructive inflammation and allergies. 

Stellabody® hexamer technology is one of our key discoveries. It is a simple but revolutionary and multifaceted technology that is broadly applicable in the development of new biological medicines. 

Our research focuses on applying our multifaceted Stellabody® hexamer technology to:

  • direct the human immune system to destroy cancer cells
  • novel COVID-19 biological drugs called fusion proteins. These drugs can neutralise all SARS-CoV-2 variants, and by using Stellabody® technology, they are also potent activators of the immune system, which then eliminates the neutralised virus. These drugs will protect us against future pandemics of this type
  • be directed against different pathogens, particularly malaria and HIV.

We’re also working on ways to prevent inflammatory disease.  We have discovered how to engineer antibodies to selectively engage inflammatory cells to switch off inflammation that occurs in autoimmune or allergic diseases. Now, we’re applying this technology to target:

  • B cells and inflammatory cells that initiate the inflammation and tissue destruction in lupus
  • allergenic cells in allergic disease. 

Our discoveries have broad implications for new treatments and wide application of our technology is possible. These discoveries have led us to create powerful antibody-based biological drugs which will form the basis of next-generation, “next-gen“ therapeutics.


times is how much more effective Stellabody® is at cell killing than standard antibody therapeutics.  Stellabody® hexamer technology was discovered in the Hogarth Immune Therapies Group at Burnet Institute, one of the most globally accomplished laboratories in this field. 


is the number of naturally occurring components that make up the ACE2-Fc fusion protein. It’s a novel biological drug developed by Burnet researchers that neutralises all SARS-CoV-2 variants and protects against many future coronavirus pandemics.


Our researchers are designing and engineering a new, world-first medicine class - “Fc engineered monoclonal antibodies” (mAbs). The goal is to develop a new class of potent, highly selective, therapeutic mAbs that harness the body’s normal inhibitory control mechanism to eliminate inflammation in allergy and related diseases.


is the number of people whose plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples were used in a Burnet-supported malaria study. The researchers looked at whether the activation of CD4 T-follicular helper (Tfh) cells, which play key roles in inducing antibodies, would be different in adults vs children with malaria. The data provided evidence that age impacts Tfh cell activation during malaria and that these differences may influence antibody induction after treatment. These findings have important implications for vaccine development in children.

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.