Developing targeted immunotherapy for leukaemia
Aim of the research
Dr Giulia Casorati aims to develop a technique for genetically engineering a special type of white blood cell so that it can recognise and kill cancer cells.
Meet the scientist
Dr Giulia Casorati is a joint group leader in the Experimental Immunology Unit at Fondazione Centro San Raffaele. Giulia has had a illustrious career in immunology research, helping to understand how cells of our immune system function and how this knowledge can be applied to the development of new cancer therapies.
More about the research project
There are nearly 440,000 new cases of leukaemia diagnosed worldwide each year and less than half of these people will survive for 10 years or more after their diagnosis. The current therapies for leukaemia are often very successful at treating patients, but many people go on to develop the disease again further down the line.
Dr Giulia Casorati, based at Fondazione Centro San Raffaele in Milan, Italy, has recently discovered a new immunotherapy technique that forces cells of the immune system to recognise, attack and destroy leukaemia cells. Dr Casorati and her team now want to see if they can develop this technique further by focusing their attention on a powerful immune cell called a Natural Killer T-cell. Their project aims to genetically engineer Natural Killer T-cells so that they recognise leukaemia cells and test their cancer killing ability in the lab. They hope that their technique will one day be turned into a new treatment for leukaemia.
Immunotherapy can beat cancer by helping our own immune system to hunt down and kill cancer cells like it would against infection with a virus or bacteria.