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Studying the role of the immune system in tumour regression

  • Researcher: Professor Alain Trautmann
  • Institution: Institut Cochin
  • Award Amount: £156,200 for 3 years from January 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Studying the role of the immune system in tumour regression
The cells within our immune system are trained to recognise bacteria, viruses and may also recognise cancer cells. Immune system cells (white blood cells) can then attack and kill such abnormal bodies once they have been detected. Despite cancer cells being recognised by the immune system, human tumours are rarely efficiently attacked and so they donUt often regress, or become smaller. Images taken from growing tumours have shown that lymphocytes, a type of immune cell, play an important role in preventing tumour cells from spreading to other parts of the body. However, other white blood cells, known to eliminate bacteria or viruses, have been found to help tumour growth. We do not have a lot of information about the contribution of these different immune cell types to tumour regression. Dr Trautmann will be using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to study the cells and molecules that are necessary for tumour regression after appropriate activation of the immune system.

The project will use tumours in mice to look at the different immune cell types that are driven to the tumour and the surrounding areas, and the molecules that are produced because of this. With his team, they will try to visualise in 3D where the different immune cells go to within the tumour and surrounding tissue. They will also eliminate different immune cell types in different tumour models to see how the absence of these cells affects tumour regression, and to understand how the cells and molecules involved, together, cause tumour regression. These results could hopefully be used to design new ways to treat established tumours by using the body's immune system to attack the tumours.
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