A new way to boost the immune system’s fight against cancer
Cells of the immune system that help fight off disease, including cancer, are switched on in special organs found in the body called lymph nodes. The immune system can also generate other areas to activate these cells, particularly where there is a region of diseased tissue, such as near a tumour. These special sites for switching on immune cells are called tertiary lymphoid structures, and it is known that for some cancers that the more of these structures that exist in or near a tumour, the longer the patient will survive.
Professor Maries van den Broek and her team want to work out exactly how these structures develop in the body to help develop a new cancer therapy that might be able to promote their development in patients. They are going to study in detail the impact these structures have on the immune response against tumours and importantly, how inducing the development of these structures might be able to enhance the effectiveness of standard cancer treatments.