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Tim Elliott

Researcher Tim Elliott profile image

Turning the immune system on cancer

University of Southampton
Somers Cancer Research Building, MP824
Southampton General Hospital
Tremona Road
SO16 6YD

Web: Lab website

Professor Tim Elliott is a leading expert in immunotherapy – treating cancer using the power of the immune system. At the University of Southampton, he and his team are finding out how to make immunotherapy more powerful, to improve the effectiveness of this important new treatment.

Training the immune system

Our immune system is vital, keeping us healthy by detecting and destroying harmful bacteria and viruses. But because cancer starts from our own cells, it is more difficult for the immune system to recognise than these ‘foreign’ invaders.

Researchers around the world are working on immunotherapy - treatments that ‘train’ the immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells. But so far, immunotherapy has not proved to be as successful in clinical trials as it could be.

Professor Elliott and his team are investigating how the immune system recognises ‘bad’ cells, such as cancer cells. By understanding how the immune system spots tumours – and how cancer cells can ‘hide’ from it – the researchers aim to develop more effective ways to treat the disease, saving lives in the future.

When our immune system encounters a cancer or a cancer vaccine, it is faced with a choice of thousands of different molecules to recognise but ends up focussing on just one or two of these: thereby putting all its combative eggs in one basket.

Other research projects by Tim Elliott