Immunotherapy is the most promising breakthrough in cancer treatment in decades and is revolutionizing cancer treatment. Immunotherapy exploits the patient’s own immune cells to kill cancer cells and is producing cures in diseases, such as melanoma, where patients previously had little hope of being cured. Nevertheless, the benefit of this revolutionary approach remains restricted to a relatively small fraction of patients and the challenge before us is to expand those benefits to all patients.
As an immunologist at Fox Chase, I have developed a bold new approach to make the immune response to cancer even more potent. I seek to accomplish this by tricking the body’s immune cells into thinking they are attacking their traditional enemy – an invading microbe – instead of cancer, a rogue version of itself. I am able to do so because I have identified a new way that immune cells detect the presence of microbes and have identified drugs capable of mimicking that attack. Consequently, I intend to use those drugs to release the full fury of the immune system on the most difficult to treat cancers, like melanoma. We are confident that this new approach will expand the benefits to immunotherapy to untold numbers of previously unresponsive cancer patients and give them hope.
Siddharth Balachandran, PhD
Co-Leader, Blood Cell Development and Function
Fox Chase Cancer Center
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