EMPOWERING OUR OWN MICROSCOPIC DEFENCES
HOW DOES IMMUNOLOGY RELATE TO CANCER RESEARCH?
Our immune systems are made up of building blocks that function as a system to fight many diseases, including cancer. To improve our understanding of these building blocks, scientists are learning more about immune cells and how a patient’s immune system interacts with their cancer. Understanding how immune cells work together to target and kill cancer cells allows scientists to develop drugs that help the immune system fight cancer more effectively. These drugs can also help destroy cancer cells that survive other treatments, so they can be used to supplement other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy, to better prevent the return of the cancer.
WHAT JOBS IN IMMUNOLOGY CAN YOU PURSUE IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN CANCER RESEARCH?
There are a number of jobs in the field of immunology that relate to cancer research. Take a look at our blog posts about:
- Systems Immunology
- Clinical immunology
WHERE IS THE FIELD OF Immunology HEADING?
There have been multiple developments in the field of immunology to advance cancer research. Four diverse branches of immunology that have developed are: immunochemistry, the study of chemical compounds secreted by immune cells; systems immunology, a field that looks at how the immune system functions throughout the body; clinical immunology, which investigates what happens when there are deficiencies in immune system function or undesired immune responses; and immunopharmacology, a field that is involved in creating drugs that can improve a patient’s immune response against cancer. The field of immunopharmacology is rapidly expanding in cancer research, with a focus on using engineered tools to target key features of the cancerous cells. By only killing cancer cells, current immunotherapies have shown great promise in treating a variety of cancers: such as melanoma, bladder and kidney cancers. In the future, personalized treatment options may be available that enable the patients’ immune systems to more readily target the tumour. Tailoring treatment options to the individual patient will enable scientists and doctors to find more effective approaches for the patient’s cancer.
Meet our LET’S tALK IMMUNOLOGY editors
Lara Gerhardt is an MSc Candidate at Western University in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Lara’s research is focused on uncovering how tumour reactive T-cells express certain molecules and subsequent effects on anti-tumour immune responses.
Sally Esmail completed a PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular biology from the University of Toronto. Her research philosophy is to employ a multidisciplinary approach combining biochemistry, immuno-oncology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, transcriptomics, phosphoproteomics, proteomics, cell and molecular biology in order to conduct basic, pre-clinical, and translational research. Since 2007, she has contributed to the field through multiple first-author publication in top peer reviewed international journals, international patents and presentations in national and international scientific meetings. Reflective of her research excellence and productivity, she obtained several competitive external funding and numerous travel awards and was invited to give oral presentations in national and international conferences.