What's the vision for the framework?

Here, we look at the vision and aims behind this interactive framework – and find out how you can help accelerate discoveries in the field of immunotherapy.

Go to the profile of Dr Alison Halliday
Jan 24, 2018
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“We know from mice studies of cancer immunotherapy that there’s an incredible variation in responses that can’t be explained by their genes or their living environment,” says Dr Ira Mellman of Genentech, San Francisco.

It’s a similar story in people with cancer, with huge variations seen in their responses to immunotherapies in clinical trials. And we will need to define all of the things that influence this variability to gain a better understanding of how these treatments work and how to improve their effectiveness.

This is the challenge that led Mellman and his colleague Dr Dan Chen at Genentech, to develop their cancer- immune setpoint.

“In many ways, the immune-setpoint concept is intended to be a unifying theory for how the human immune system interacts with cancer, incorporating all the potential complexities that exist,” says Chen.

But the scientists knew that there are many more factors involved that they could think of on their own – and to capture everything, they would need help from a much larger population of immunologists.

“The only way to really do this, which has never really been done before, is to do a crowdsourcing effort – asking our colleagues to weigh in – not to complain if we’ve left something out – but if we’ve left something out, put it in,” says Mellman.

By building a community of researchers around an interactive figurative version of the framework, the hope is that this will drive its continued evolution.

As Chen sums up: “We create a framework to understand cancer immunology. We create a community that is willing to contribute to it. And overall, our expectation is that over time, that will help accelerate discoveries in this field.”

In the long-term, this innovative approach could yield huge benefits for cancer patients. Scientists and clinicians will get a better sense of what features of an individual’s biology or immunology or physiology are important – vital information that will enable doctors to personalise immunotherapy and improve its chance of success.

But the evolution of the cancer-immune setpoint will only succeed if you - the community - contribute your ideas. Please go to the framework and add your comments - to improve on what’s included and to update it as new data are published (n.b. you’ll need to be on a computer, rather than mobile!).

To help get you started, please follow our a simple step-by-step guide in our ‘how to’ post.

Go to the profile of Dr Alison Halliday

Dr Alison Halliday

Community Manager, Nature Research

Molecular Biologist turned freelance science communicator, with 10 year's experience at Cancer Research UK.

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