Maries van den Broek aims to explore the therapeutic potential of "switching on" immune cells in close proximity or even in the tumour. Understanding this activation of immune cells might improve the effectiveness of standard cancer therapies in the future.
Maries van den Brook is a professor and self-confessed rowing addict at the Institute of Experimental Immunology, part of the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on the interaction between the immune system and cancer.
Cells of the immune system that help fight off 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 form 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 these structures to form might be able to enhance the effectiveness of standard cancer treatments.