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Improving vaccines against lymphoma

  • Researcher: Professor Christian Munz
  • Institution: University of Zurich
  • Award Amount: £207,842 for 3 years from June 2011
  • Cancer Type: Hodgkins Disease
Improving vaccines against lymphoma
Vaccinations are widely used to protect us from serious diseases such a polio or diphtheria. They work by introducing an inactive version or small part of a foreign body such as a virus or bacteria. Once inside us the foreign body often triggers the production of antibodies and immune system cells which can kill or neutralise the potentially harmful invader. A type of immune system cell called a T cell are thought to be primarily required for protection against tumors. In order to develop vaccines that trigger this type of immune responses, research has to be done in animals like mice, as the experiments cannot be done on humans. However, although genetically mice and humans are quite similar, the immune systems are quite different, which is why some vaccines that look promising in mouse studies, fail to invoke an immune response in humans. Professor Münz is exploring a new strain of mouse which has components of a human immune system. He will be using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to study this new animal model to try to find a way to get a better immune response, mainly from the T cells, against the cancer-causing Epstein Barr virus which can cause several human lymphomas and carcinomas.
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