Cancer immunology

Published on September 30, 2021   25 min

Other Talks in the Series: The Immune System - key concepts and questions

Hello, my name is Tim Elliot, I'm the Kidani Professor of Immuno-oncology, and I work at the University of Oxford in the UK. This lecture is a basic introduction to the principles of cancer immunology.
First, some basics on the disease of cancer, which is a disease of cells. Now, the average adult human being is composed of around 100 million million cells, and most of these are differentiated to perform a specific function. Nerve cells, for example, conduct electrochemical impulses. Red blood cells transport oxygen around the body and so on.
They arise through a process of cell division, and this is a normal homeostatic process that's highly controlled and it's required for a number of normal processes in life. First of all, of course, growth. We all start off as a single cell, but end up as a collection of 10 to the 14 highly differentiated cells as I just said. We need cell division also to repair wounds following some physical damage and just the normal process of homeostasis. Replacing old cells as they wear out and need replacing also requires turnover of cells through a process of cell division.
Just to give you some idea of the scale of that whole process, in the past minute, our bodies made around 300 million new red blood cells, 12,000 million new gut cells, and 40,000 new skin cells, and the old ones are being either recycled or in the case of skin cells, floated off into the air surrounding you. Cell division is an ongoing process and we're very busy replacing cells all the time. Now, cell division is normally very tightly controlled