Our cancer immunotherapies work by stimulating the body's immune system to fight cancer. Although our first therapies have entered clinical use, we still need a complete understanding of how the immune system reacts to cancer.

Vaccine therapies target cancer

T cells are white blood cells that can kill tumour cells. Vaccines that activate these cells, increase their numbers and sustain their attack are promising targets for new cancer treatments. 

Our vaccines programme is developing technologies that help the immune system target cancer cells more precisely. The vaccines can be created from a patient'’s own tumour cells or from synthetic components that have been made to look like a tumour. The aim is to make the tumour look dangerous to the body (in the same way that infectious bacteria would) to cause a strong immune response. Immune cells also have a ‘memory for cancer, –so they could re-launch an attack if the tumour started to grow again.

This work with chemists at the Ferrier Research Institute is being progressed by Avalia Immunotherapies

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Research programmes

We believe our research has the potential to launch a new era in cancer treatment because of our unique combination of immunology, cell biology and drug discovery programmes.  

Our cancer research is in three areas.

The Vaccine Therapy Programme – investigating therapeutic vaccines that stimulate and promote particular immune cells to fight cancer.
Led by Associate Professor Ian Hermans.

The Immune Cell Biology Programme – studying dendritric cells, specialised immune cells that pick up environmental cues and translate them into signals to switch immune responses on or off.
Led by Professor Franca Ronchese.

The Cancer Cell Biology Group – researching the ways cancer cells grow and multiply.
Led by Professor Mike Berridge and Dr Melanie McConnell.

Specialised laboratories

Our cancer research requires the use of the Hugh Green Cytometry Core and the Keith and Faith Taylor Cancer Research Laboratories.