The Orchestrated Immune Response: Dynamic Forces Guiding Cancer Immunity


Targeted immuno-oncology agents have had a tremendous impact on the treatment of patients with many different kinds of cancers. But some cancers remain impervious to immunotherapy, and responses in many tumour types are unpredictable. If our understanding of the immune system is the last barrier to cracking the immunotherapy code, perhaps we need to take the time to tackle this big question.

This Spotlight Theater debuts a new framework for understanding the role of the immune system in cancer with the potential to reshape the way scientists develop medicines to counteract tumour growth. This framework characterises the immune system as an active decision-maker. A coordinated set of decisions of multiple innate and adaptive immune cells results in three distinct states: Ignore, Attack, or Defend. The propensity of the immune system to coordinate these decision states is driven from underlying principles evolved over millennia, such as the recognition of “non-self” and the ability to sense danger. As this applies to therapeutic intervention, future immuno-oncology therapies should start with a clearer view of the cancer patient’s underlying immune state to more successfully drive to the Attack state.

With an introduction from Susan Galbraith, MD, PhD, this novel framework is presented by Mark Cobbold, MD, PhD, renowned physician-scientist who leads AstraZeneca’s early research in Immuno-oncology, Circuits-Engagers & Cell Therapy and who has dedicated himself to the challenge of harnessing the immune system against cancer.

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