Trudeau’s cancer immunology research program consists of investigators linked by common research interests in the functioning of the immune system, including how that system can be induced to help prevent and treat cancer.
Scientists around the world are making great strides to prevent cancer and improve available therapies. As a result, cancers are being detected earlier, and many cancers are much more treatable than ever before.
Cancer continues to claim and affect many lives, however. In January 2006, the latest census from the National Cancer Institute stated that there were approximately 365,000 Americans alive with a history of lung cancer, and every day 1,500 deaths are attributed to cancer in the United States alone.
Cancers are caused by abnormalities in the genetic material that resides inside cells. These abnormalities may be the result of carcinogens (such as tobacco smoke, radiation or chemicals) or to infectious agents (such as the herpes viruses linked to cervical cancer). These genetic aberrations can cause cells to grow in an uncontrolled manner, to become invasive, and also to avoid detection and elimination by the immune system.
Trudeau’s cancer immunology research program consists of investigators linked by common research interests in the functioning of the immune system, including how that system can be induced to help prevent or treat cancer.
Cancer cells have an uncanny way of hiding from the surveillance “scouts” sent by the immune system, which is how many tumors manage to grow and become metastatic. Trudeau scientists have shown that they can override this “hiding” mechanism by training, or priming, a type of cell called “killer” T cells to warn the immune system when dangerous tumors cells are found. When transplanted into mouse models, these newly “primed” T cells are capable of locating and destroying cancer-causing tumor cells within a matter of days.
Trudeau's cancer immunologists are working to adapt this advance from laboratory mouse models into one that can be translated into clinical utility for the treatment of cancer in humans.