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Lead researcher: Dr Martin Miller 

Dr Martin Miller

"Now is the time to test our growing knowledge of how the immune system can play a role in controlling ovarian cancer in this groundbreaking new project."

Dr Martin Miller

Location: University of Cambridge

Research strand: Immunotherapy           

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to scientists working on immunotherapy approaches in cancer treatment. This area holds significant promise for developing new approaches to treat ovarian cancer. 

Unlocking the power of the immune system

Led by Dr Martin Miller at the University of Cambridge, the main aim of our new project will be to unlock the power of the immune system to transform ovarian cancer treatments. 

This may sound like an impossible task, but it will be broken down into stages, as Dr Miller and his team initially explore how chemotherapy may unexpectedly activate immune cells in ovarian cancer tumours. They will look at why this positive immune cell response might happen in some but not all patients after chemotherapy treatment. Finally, the scientists will look at unlocking a person's immune system by exploring new combinations of treatments for ovarian cancer, where chemotherapy and immunotherapy work together to better fight cancer.

Understanding different types of ovarian cancer

Dr Miller's approach could revolutionise how we treat ovarian cancer in the future. Recent research by Dr Miller has revealed that the immune system may play an important tole in slowing the growth of metastatic ovarian cancer, which is ovarian cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. In some women, specific types of white blood cells are found in or near some tumours, and the team found that these women are more likely to survive for longer.

However, in primary ovarian cancer, which has not spread beyond the ovaries, less is known about the immune systems response. The team in Cambridge will address this lack of knowledge so they can better understand the interplay between immune cells, cancer cells, and chemotherapy. Once they understand more, they can begin to look at optimising ovarian cancer treatment.

This project began in 2019.

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