Cancer immunotherapy

Published on September 30, 2021   32 min

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

Hello, my name is Tim Elliott. I'm the Kidani Professor of Immuno-oncology. I work at the University of Oxford in the UK. In this lecture, I'm going to give a brief introduction to the basic principles of cancer immunotherapy. I recommend you listen to an accompanying lecture in the same series here on cancer immunology and this would serve as a good primer to the lecture you're about to see now.
This cartoon describes in very basic terms, the relationship between our immune system and a growing tumor. We know that it's possible to prime T-cells to tumor antigens. Those T-cells, when they become activated, can home into the site of tumor development in a tissue where they join other tissue-resident lymphocytes and together, these can kill tumor cells. And that this process of tumor ablation can balance any cell division that's occurring in tumor cells and a period of so-called tumor equilibrium can ensue. We also know, however, that tumors can escape this immune attack either by inducing functional exhaustion in T-cells or by inducing any immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment by attracting suppressive cells to the microenvironment or by reprogramming tissue-resident cells to become immunosuppressive. Well, the tumors can simply lose the ability to present and process antigens to those T-cell. They escape simply because they become invisible and this then leads to a period of tumor progression which is clinically potentially lethal. Now, each one of these stages is a potential target for immunotherapy. I'll go through these in turn throughout my lecture.