The Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at La Jolla Institute is at the forefront of exploring new and sometimes unexpected avenues for novel immune-based cancer treatments, as well as predicting and improving the effectiveness of existing immunotherapies. It brings together some of the world’s most innovative scientists, who are not afraid to leave the beaten path and tackle major questions in new ways: How to select the best targets for personalized cancer vaccines? How to predict which patients will respond to cancer immunotherapy and how to overcome tumor resistance? How to engage hitherto ignored types of immune cells in the fight against cancer?

What is cancer immunotherapy?

Cancer immunotherapies rally a patient’s immune cells to attack tumor cells and are a source of great hope in cancer care. Several of them are specifically designed to supercharge T cells, which use receptors on their surface to scan anything they encounter to determine whether it is friend or foe. These game-changing treatments have brought cancer patients back from the brink and vanquished tumors resistant to conventional therapies. Despite being hailed as miracle cures, immune-based cancer therapies actually only benefit a minority of cancer patients. The problem is that tumors have developed a suite of molecular tools to thwart the ability of T cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. This challenge has prompted our scientists to look to different divisions of the immune system to overcome tumor cell defenses.


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