Funded by the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation
Most cancer treatments — such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy — work by direct killing of cancer cells. Some of the recent and most powerful therapies work by stimulating the patient’s own immune system to kill cancer cells. While these new immune-based therapies work better than most previous therapies and are now approved for treating 13 cancer types, they do not work for all patients. To understand why these treatments works for some patients and not others, we need better tools to investigate how the immune system interacts with cancer. We have developed a new way of growing tumors outside patients’ bodies to study how tumor cells and immune cells interact with each other. Our goal is to study how different types of immune cells stop cancer growth. We use our new method for growing tumors outside of the body to test out new treatments designed to steer the immune response towards tumor cells more effectively. If initial tests are successful, we will aim to try these new treatments in patients with melanoma and potentially other types of cancer.