With the development of immune therapies (modulation of the body's own immune system), a new era of cancer treatment has begun that improves and prolongs the survival of patients. With so-called checkpoint inhibitors, cancer cells can be destroyed by the patient's own immune system, but the response rate of patients is subject to unexplained fluctuations. Numerous side effects such as skin rash, colitis, pneumonia and hepatitis can also occur. The occurrence of these autoimmune reactions could indicate a successful cancer therapy. On the other hand, we try to identify and functionally study various changes during immunotherapy. Our vision is to predict which checkpoint inhibitors are best suited for each treatment.
Towards a Cancer Vaccine
In general, our immune system is able to recognize and eliminate cancer cells, however, tumor cells can inhibit this natural reaction. Although the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors has been very successful, only up to 50% of patients with metastatic melanoma are responding to this form of therapy. In a study, we would like to test whether immunization against tumor antigens can trigger a potent immune response that will destroy skin cancer cells. Our vision is to make a significant contribution to developing a safe and successful vaccine against black skin cancer.