Newswise — Cancer immunology research takes centre stage at inaugural international conference ‘Translating Science into Survival’

Two of the foremost UK-based authorities on cancer immunology and immunotherapy will be speaking at this week’s Inaugural International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival (September 16-19, Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, New York, New York). The conference is jointly organized by The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT), the European Academy of Tumor Immunology (EATI), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

University of Southampton specialists Martin Glennie, Professor of Immunochemistry, and Christian Ottensmeier, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine, will take the podium in New York along with other acknowledged leaders who will reveal the latest research and practice around how the body’s immune system is being used to fight cancer and extend peoples’ lives.

Professor Martin Glennie will speak on Thursday morning, 17 September, in a presentation entitled Designing immunostimulatory mAb to promote anti-cancer immunity. The session starts at 8.35 am EDT.

Professor Christian Ottensmeier follows on Friday morning, 18 September, with his presentation entitled Genomic assessment of tumor immune profiles. The session starts at 10.10am EDT.

Throughout his career Professor Glennie has focused on understanding and improving how antibodies can be used therapeutically.

He was one of the first to undertake antibody engineering and to show that structural changes, such as reducing antibody valency, could have profound benefits on therapeutic efficacy.

Professor Glennie now leads a team of clinical and non-clinical scientists and students investigating many aspects of antibody immunotherapy. Understanding antibody biology, including target specificity, effector function, half-life, and agonistic activity in cell signalling, has proved critical in developing clinical reagents. Professor Ottensmeier and his team are at the forefront of research into cancer vaccines. This novel approach to cancer treatment aims to stimulate the body's own immune system to recognise and kill the cancer cells.

The technique is being tested as a treatment for cancers such as lymphoma and myeloma. The team has also developed several more vaccines and these are being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of prostate, bowel, breast and lung cancers.Dr Ottensmeier is developing DNA-based cancer vaccines for the treatment of a variety of different cancers. The DNA vaccines contain the genetic code for molecules found on the surface of cancer cells. When the vaccine is injected into the body, special cells in the body absorb it and start to produce these molecules. This alerts the immune system, which mounts an attack against the cancer cells.

Cancer immunology expertise at the University of SouthamptonFor more than a decade, the University of Southampton has made a number of advances in tumour immunology and immunotherapy with a reputation for its ‘bench to bedside’ results. More and more evidence is showing that the immune system has enormous potential to fight cancer and to extend peoples’ lives. Recent results from large clinical projects are giving real hope that researchers are entering a new era of cancer treatment.

The new treatments come in the form of vaccines and antibodies designed to direct special immune cells against cancers. According to Professor Glennie, Professor of Immunochemistry at the University, these cells are normally responsible for protecting the body from invasion by viruses such as measles and influenza. However, given the right education, these ‘killer’ immune cells can control and shrink cancer and give long-lasting protection.

“For many years researchers in Southampton have led the way in this fight,” said Professor Glennie. “We were one of the first units to isolate antibodies and develop vaccines that trigger immunity against cancers of the prostate, colon and against leukemia.

“We have been particularly successful at taking discoveries from the laboratory and offering them to patients in clinical trials,” Professor Glennie continued. “It has been a long wait, but this work is now paying dividends and shows the true potency of the immune system to destroy cancer cells. Our antibody discovery programme is already delivering new drugs to the clinic and with the new centre, we can accelerate this process.”

The most recent drug in this class is called Ipilimumab which stimulates the immune system to kill cancer cells and it was the first ever treatment to extend the life of patients with the aggressive skin cancer called melanoma.

“These exciting results are just the first in a rapidly growing list and over the coming years we expect to see numerous ‘immune booster’ drugs of this type being approved for different all sorts of cancer,” said Professor Christian Ottensmeier who leads the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in Southampton and helped to develop Ipilimumab.

“This is just the first tantalizing glimpse of how of the immune system can benefit patients if given the right kind of help. Southampton has an outstanding track record of developing new vaccines for clinical testing and with our expertise in antibody discovery we have the tools to really make a difference,” he concluded.

The cure for cancer? You’re itEarlier this year, the University of Southampton launched a campaign to raise £25m to open the UK’s first dedicated Centre for Cancer Immunology at Southampton. Find out more about it at

Contacting Professors Glennie and OttensemeierProfessor Martin Glennie and Professor Christian Ottensmeier are available throughout the conference for media interviews and expert comment.

For further information and to make arrangements, please contact:

Charles Elder, Media Relations Manager, University of Southampton Tel: +44 (0) 23 8059 8933 Email: [email protected]

Jeff Molter, Director Media and Public Relations, American Association for Cancer ResearchTel: 267-210-3965Email: [email protected]

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