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Cancer immunotherapy at Cardiff

Cancer immunotherapy is a groundbreaking research area that aims to help the immune system to identify and target cancer cells. Cardiff University is expanding the potential of cancer immunotherapy through a combination of bioinformatics, laboratory research, clinical trials, and collaboration with institutions across Wales.

Our immune system identifies and destroys unhealthy infected tissue throughout the body, with the exception of cancer tissue. When it comes to cancer, the immune system instead identifies it as healthy, leaving cancer cells to grow unimpeded.

Cancer immunotherapy is a groundbreaking research area that aims to overcome this problem by persuading the immune system to stop cancer in its tracks. Immunotherapy breakthroughs include the development of new antibodies that can attach themselves to immune cells and block out the “stop” signal that prevents the immune system from identifying the cancer as infected.

This has provided significant developments in treatment for previously untreatable cancers such as melanoma, but the research has a long way to go, with limited success rates shown in trials for other types of cancers.

In our showcase, Professor Awen Gallimore, Co-Director of Systems Immunity Research Institute, shows how Cardiff University is expanding upon the potential of cancer immunotherapy through a combination of bioinformatics, laboratory research, clinical trials, and collaboration with institutions across Wales.

Lorenzo Capitani, a PhD student in Awen’s team, provides an example of this research, sharing details of his own investigation into a novel treatment for colorectal cancer, the 4th deadliest cancer in the world. Currently, clinical trials targeting colorectal cancer with immunotherapy have been widely unsuccessful.

Lorenzo believes this may be due to the high percentage of LAG3 found in colorectal cancer cells, a gene inside white blood cells that may be giving out a “stop” signal to suppress immune responses. Lorenzo’s research tracks the correlation between LAG3 and the success rates of treatment in colorectal cancer patients, ultimately determining whether a new immunotherapy could be developed that directly targets and blocks LAG3 from functioning, improving treatment for colorectal cancer and providing a foundation for future immunotherapies.

Cardiff’s research aims to give hope to cancer patients living with these incurable diseases.

Watch our Research Showcase event to learn more.