Earlier this year we completed our move into the new Centre for Cancer Immunology at University of Southampton. The building is the first of its kind in the UK and has been designed to bring together scientists, cancer doctors and clinical trials specialists to allow better collaboration and to deliver newly discovered science into patients for the first time.
The relocation marks an exciting stage for our research programme. Professor Crispin’s team are working on ways to redirect your body’s natural immune system to clear breast cancer cells that have spread from the site of origin.
Their approach is to manufacture antibodies that have been artificially engineered to recognise cancerous cells in preference to surrounding healthy cells. The team are exploiting changes in the surface of cancerous cells that can mark them out for immune recognition. Southampton has a long-pedigree in developing such therapeutic antibodies and the team will be working very closely with Dr Steven Beers who’s laboratory has all the expertise to determine the effectiveness of the new drug candidates in pre-clinical models.
While the research programme is focused on developing improved therapies against breast cancer, it is also focused on revealing fundamental features of breast cancer and the researchers are beginning to look at the features that act to limit the effectiveness of antibody-based therapies. On one hand there are mechanisms inherent to the cancerous cells that act to impede therapies such as the ability of the cells to dampen the immune response. On the other hand, the investigators are becoming increasingly interested in the impact of diet on the tumour environment and the consequent impact of antibody-based therapies.
Following our relocation to Southampton, we are seeing tremendous opportunities to not only investigate new breast cancer drug candidates but also see how patient specific factors may impact therapy.
Professor Max Crispin
Recognising that major research advances requires a long-term vision we look forward to making further announcements relating to the development of this team under the leadership of Prof. Crispin and Dr Beers at this state of the art facility in the near future.
For a closer look at the Centre for Cancer Immunology, the first of its kind in the UK, University of Southampton produced a short film thanking all those responsible for the delivery of this new £25 million building which you can see here.