Scientists discover how to improve immune response to cancer

Apr 26, 2009

A team of scientists at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research (CFIBCR) at Princess Margaret Hospital and international collaborators have discovered how to trigger an improved immune response to cancer that could be included in new clinical trials that use a patient's own cells to destroy tumours.

The findings, published online today in (DOI: 10.1038/nm.1953), demonstrate the tantalizing potential of in treatment, says principal investigator Dr. Pamela Ohashi, co-director, CFIBCR.

In the lab study, the scientists combined interleukin-7 (IL-7) - a key component of the - with a viral vaccine to improve the ability of the cells of the immune system to attack tumours. The result was clear: The combination boosted immunity to tumours.

"We are extremely excited because our research has revealed the unexpected ways IL-7 works to break down barriers that naturally block the immune response to tumours. This is important because current vaccine approaches for immune therapy induce a response in just 1% to 3% of patients," says Dr. Ohashi, a senior scientist in signaling biology who holds a Canada Research Chair in Autoimmunity and Tumour Immunity. She is also a Professor, University of Toronto, in the Department of Medical Biophysics and Immunology. "

Dr. Tak Mak, co-author and CFIBCR director, says: "The promise of using the body's own defenses to fight cancer is enormous. The day is coming when immunotherapy may help spare cancer patients the toxic side effects of traditional therapies and greatly improve their quality of life while treating the disease. This is why we are planning to expand our immunotherapy research program at PMH." Dr. Mak is also a Professor, University of Toronto, in the Department of Medical Biophysics and Immunology.

This research was also financially supported by grants and fellowships from the Canadian Institute for Health Research, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Terry Fox Foundation, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the Boninchi Foundation (Geneva) and the Irvington Institute with the Cancer Research Institute (New York).

Source: University Health Network

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists discover cancer-causing role of gene proteins

Sep 18, 2008

Dr. Tak Mak and scientists at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital have discovered the role of two "cousins" in the genetic family tree of cancer development.

Cancer vaccine may be possibility

Feb 24, 2006

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center are working on a vaccine to prevent cancer.

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.