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Willem Overwijk Explains the Role of the Innate Immune System in Cancer Treatment

Willem Overwijk, PhD
Published: Friday, Nov 06, 2015



Willem Overwijk, PhD, associate professor, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, Research, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains the role of innate immunity in the treatment of cancer.

Cancer vaccines that aim to induce a T cell or B-cell response must first go through the innate immune system. The innate immune system must be activated, and pick up the antigens that are provided by the vaccine, explains Overwijk. Vaccine adjuvants can stimulate the innate immune cells, to help prime and activate the adaptive immune cells.

The innate immune cells themselves, which support and promote cancer growth, can also be directly inhibited with therapeutics, says Overwijk. Lenalidomide is an example of a drug that utilizes this mechanism of action. Lenalidomide blocks cytokines that support multiple myeloma cells in the bone marrow. By blocking the production of those cytokines from innate immune cells, tumor growth can be slowed down and become more sensitive to other types of cancer treatment, says Overwijk.



Willem Overwijk, PhD, associate professor, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, Research, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains the role of innate immunity in the treatment of cancer.

Cancer vaccines that aim to induce a T cell or B-cell response must first go through the innate immune system. The innate immune system must be activated, and pick up the antigens that are provided by the vaccine, explains Overwijk. Vaccine adjuvants can stimulate the innate immune cells, to help prime and activate the adaptive immune cells.

The innate immune cells themselves, which support and promote cancer growth, can also be directly inhibited with therapeutics, says Overwijk. Lenalidomide is an example of a drug that utilizes this mechanism of action. Lenalidomide blocks cytokines that support multiple myeloma cells in the bone marrow. By blocking the production of those cytokines from innate immune cells, tumor growth can be slowed down and become more sensitive to other types of cancer treatment, says Overwijk.




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