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NDORMS researchers join five other universities to investigate how cancer survivors make antibodies that target and destroy tumours, and explore routes for new treatments

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T-cells may play an important role in cancer survival

Funded by eminent philanthropist and three time cancer survivor Dr James Hull, researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Swansea, Surrey, Cardiff, Manchester and Nottingham, and Royal Surrey County Hospital, will undertake non-invasive investigations of immune systems and tumour cells to identify any unique features which could explain why patients surviving advanced cancer have remained cancer free.

The study will focus on patients who have had successful treatment of advanced cancer and in whom the cancer has not reoccurred for at least 5 years, to explore whether patients' antibodies can be used to design new treatments for people that may not otherwise survive.

The team at NDORMS is investigating how cancer survivors make antibodies that target and destroy their tumours. Professor Patrick Venables, co-lead of the study, said: "One area of interest for us is pancreatic cancer; the most lethal of the common cancers in humans. In metastatic pancreatic cancer, where it has spread to other organs in the body, the survival rate is less than 1%. In these rare, long-term survivors there is evidence that the tumour has been killed by the body's own immune system. In Oxford we are examining blood in survivors of metastatic pancreatic cancer to establish how the immune system can control the disease".

Professor Kim Midwood adds: "We have identified some new and exciting antibody targets in a cohort of pancreatic cancer survivors. We now need to understand if these antibodies act as a common mechanism of protection against cancer, found in all long-term survivors, or whether different tumour-destroying antibodies are responsible for the survival of different people, with different types of cancer. We will use this information to design new immune-based treatments for people with cancer who would not otherwise survive".

James Hull, philanthropist and CEO and Founder of Continuum Life Sciences said: "I am very grateful to be a cancer survivor and wholeheartedly thank all those involved in my treatment journey. I want to find out everything we can about this devastating illness to spare future generations the difficulties I have gone through in my fight against cancer.

"Bringing together the best cancer experts in the country and equipping them with the resources they need is one way I can do this and I am very excited to see what they uncover."

The Continuum Long-term Survivor study is recruiting patients who have had an aggressive, locally advanced and/or metastatic cancer which resolved completely with treatment and have remained free of the disease without maintenance treatment for 5 years or longer. To take part please email cltsstudy@continuumlifesciences.com or alternatively call the free phone number 0800 144 8488.