Cancer and the immune system

The immune system is intricately involved in all aspects of cancer. While many neoplastic cells are detected and eliminated by immune cells, inflammation is also a fundamental driver of tumourigenesis. Our group is interested in understanding the basic immune-regulatory mechanisms in cancer, focusing on a new type of immune-regulatory cell, called the group 2 innate lymphoid cell (ILC2). More specifically, ILC2 are known to directly influence many pro- and anti-cancer immune pathways, making this cell a challenging but potentially important target to investigate. We are using, and developing, cutting-edge reagents to study how ILC2-driven inflammation is involved in cancer. This research will reveal potential new avenues for immunotherapy.

Our research at the CRUK Cambridge Institute leverages our expertise in ILC biology and innate/adaptive immune crosstalk, and many of the strengths of the institute:

  • Imaging inflammation and cancer
  • Developing new immune-targeted reagents
  • Single cell technologies to study the tumour niche
  • Close interactions with Addenbrooke’s and Papworth hospital
Figure 1: Regulation of ILC2 activation and effector functions of ILC2-derived cytokines.  ILC2 integrate multiple signals and, although they are primarily regulated by the alarmins IL-25, IL-33 and TSLP, ILC2 activations is also strongly influenced by γc-dependent cytokines, lipid mediators, cell-cell interactions, and cell-surface molecules. Activated ILC2 are a prominent source of cytokines and other molecules, important for the regulation of inflammation and homeostasis.  In red are the inhibitory receptor-ligand interactions.  TSLP, thymic stromal lymphopoietin; VIP, vasoactive intestinal peptide; NMU, neuromedin; LXA4, lipoxin A4; PGD2, prostaglandin D2; LTD2, leukotriene D2, Areg, amphiregulin; Met-Enk, menthionine-enkephalin.