Monday, March 18, 9:30 – 12:30
SC1: The Tumour Microenvironment and Response to Cancer Immunotherapy

Stephen A Beers, PhD, Professor of Immunology and Immunotherapy, Centre for Cancer Immunology, University of Southampton

Awen Gallimore, DPhil, Professor, Immunology, Infection and Immunity, Cardiff University

Short Course Description:

The tumour microenvironment (TME) is a complex, dynamic environment in which the behaviour of tumour cells alters in response to cues from the extracellular matrix (ECM), cytokines, immune cells, and stromal cells.   As well as propagating tumour growth and spread, the TME may also influence the response to immunotherapy. For example, stromal cells such as fibroblasts may drive cancer growth through production of TGFβ whilst macrophages display immunosuppressive and tumour promoting properties, through driving tumour cell proliferation and survival. In this short-course we will discuss the nature of the TME and the multiple ways in which it promotes an immunosuppressive environment. Opportunities to alter the TME in order to more effectively deliver immunotherapy will also be discussed.

During the course we will discuss:

  • The key components of the tumour microenvironment
  • Immunosuppressive cells in the TME
  • Immunosuppressive signalling pathways in the TME
  • The influence of ECM proteins on tumour infiltrating T cells
  • Overcoming immunosuppression in the TME
  • The barriers to T cell entry and how these may be overcome
  • Altering the TME to improve response to immunotherapies.
  • The importance of relevant model systems to assess drug candidates.

Meet the Instructors:

Stephen A Beers, PhD, Professor, Immunology and Immunotherapy, Cancer Immunology, University of Southampton

Stephen Beers joined the University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine in 2002. He leads a research group within the Centre for Cancer Immunology studying antibody drugs and their mechanisms of action. The group’s research is currently focussed on two main areas: 1) the mechanisms of action of immunomodulatory mAb, and 2) how the tumour microenvironment affects antibody effector function and how this might be manipulated to enhance patient outcomes. Their work utilises a portfolio of complimentary models incorporating in vitro 3D modelling, appropriate in vivo model systems and primary clinical material.

Awen Gallimore, DPhil, Professor, Immunology, Infection and Immunity, Cardiff University

Awen Gallimore is a Professor at the Division of Infection and Immunity, Cardiff University. She gained a DPhil in Professor Andrew McMichael's laboratory in Oxford, studying the anti-viral role of cytotoxic T cells in SIV infection, subsequently moving to Professor Rolf Zinkernagel's laboratory to study the correlates of anti-viral immunity. Her current focus is on examining the impact of regulatory T cells (Treg) on anti-tumour immunity, with an emphasis on understanding the nature of the reciprocal relationship between anti-tumour immune responses and the tumour microenvironment. The group takes basic research using animal models of cancer through to testing novel immunotherapies in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC).