Unlocking the power of the immune system

Led by Dr Martin Miller at the University of Cambridge, the main aim of this project is to research the immune system and its potential to transform ovarian cancer treatments. This project began in 2019.

Dr Miller and his team are initially exploring how chemotherapy may unexpectedly activate immune cells in ovarian cancer tumours. They are looking at why this positive immune cell response might happen in some but not all patients after chemotherapy treatment.

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 role 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.