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Cancer inflammation

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Theme leads

Professor Paul Moss

Cancer Inflammation Theme Lead

Professor Jo Parish

Cancer Inflammation Theme Lead

Using fundamental and translational studies of the immune response against tumour cells to develop new treatment approaches to cancer patients.

Birmingham has one of the largest and most vibrant cancer research programmes within the UK, underpinned by excellent clinical facilities that provide specialist services to 10% of the UK population. However, this region also has some of the UK’s highest cancer mortality rates, accentuated by regional inequality and deprivation. We will address this challenge through a range of ambitious research programmes.

Cancer immunotherapies are treatments designed to use and enhance the patient’s immune system to find and destroy cancer cells. While immunotherapies are transformative for some patients, response rates remain low (15-20%) and many patients develop severe toxicities. We aim to understand why some patients develop such toxicities and how to predict those patients that would benefit most from current immunotherapies. Alongside these studies, we aim to identify and develop novel immunotherapies to add to the toolbox available to clinicians.

Our second aim is to understand and reduce the burden of viral infections as a cause and a complication of cancer. Viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein Barr virus (EBV) are the direct cause of approximately 12% of all human cancers. Furthermore, infectious diseases such as COVID-19 contribute markedly to the morbidity and mortality of cancer patients. We therefore aim to understand how viruses cause cancer and to develop novel therapeutic options for patients. We also aim to understand how opportunistic viral infections (e.g. COVID-19) affect treatment response to ultimately improve cancer patient outcomes.