MD Anderson’s cancer research center makes the statement that if you treat the immune system, it can attack cancer. Detect. Destroy. Remember. Those words serve as our immune system’s mantra. It applies both to invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, and to our own defective cells. So how does cancer evade or defeat such a vigilant system? Scientist James Allison uncovered an answer, developed a breakthrough cancer treatment, and now leads MD Anderson’s efforts to let loose the immune system to attack cancer.
When a virus enters the body, it is picked up by certain cells of the immune system. They transport the virus to the lymph nodes where they present its fragments, known as antigens, to CD8+ T cells responsible for the control of viral infections. Each of these cells carries a unique T cell receptor on the surface that can recognize certain antigens. However, only very few T cell receptors match a given viral antigen.
To bring the infection under control and maximize the defenses against the virus, these few antigen-specific T cells start dividing rapidly and develop into effector T cells. These kill virus-infected host cells and then die off themselves once the infection is cleared. Some of these short-lived effector cells — according to the generally accepted theory — turn into memory T cells, which persist in the organism long term. In case the same pathogen enters the body again, memory T cells are already present and ready to fight the invader more swiftly and effectively than during the first encounter.
Date: November 2, 2020, Source: Technical University of Munich (TUM)
For a person to acquire immunity to a disease, T cells must develop into memory cells after contact with the pathogen. Until now, the number of cells that do this was believed to depend above all on the magnitude of the initial immune response. A team of researchers has now called this into question.
On June 16, 2015, Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., Ph.D., discussed the cancer immunity cycle and the importance of antigen release and presentation to maximize the potential of immunotherapies.
Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., Ph.D., is a senior member, director of the Donald A. Adam Comprehensive Melanoma Research Center of Excellence (MRCoE), and professor in the department of oncologic sciences at Moffitt Cancer Center. As a tumor immunologist and immunotherapist, he focuses on translational clinical trials, including the development of novel trials in melanoma.
His laboratory interests are in monitoring and characterizing T cell responses in patients with cancer and establishing in vitro models to understand how immune modulation via abrogating and activating antibodies amplifies adaptive immunity in patients.
Dr. Weber earned his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1979 and his M.D. from New York University Medical Center in 1980. Dr. Weber has published more than 100 articles in the top peer-reviewed journals in his field. This webinar, which is part of the Cancer Research Institute’s Breakthroughs in Cancer Immunotherapy Webinar Series, was generously supported by Amgen.
It is offered free to the public and features informative updates from leaders in cancer immunotherapy, followed by a moderated Q&A. For more information on this webinar, or to register for upcoming webinars, please visit www.cancerresearch.org/webinars.
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