Dr Ann Ager

Giving cancer-fighting cells a boost by helping them home in on cancers

Our immune systems are naturally equipped with cancer-fighting cells, such as T cells. To do their job, they need to home in on cancers and make their way inside before launching an attack. At Cardiff University, Dr Ann Ager is looking at how T cells find their way to cancers. She hopes to use this knowledge to make immune-boosting cancer therapies more effective.

There are lots of exciting developments in using T cells as a treatment for cancer. One way is to take them out of the body, train them to boost their cancer-attacking skills and then put them back in the patient. This ‘T cell therapy’ has had exciting results for some cancers, but not all. It relies on the cells’ ability to efficiently track down the cancer cells in the body. Dr Ager thinks that a molecule found on T cells called L-selectin is important for this process. She wants to test this idea using mice.

Dr Ager and her team want to find out whether L-selectin is needed for the T cells to home to and attack cancers. They will also look at whether bumping up production of this molecule could make T cell therapy more effective. If so, this approach could be combined with other immune-enhancing therapies, offering some patients more treatment options.



Henry Wellcome Building, School of Medicine, Cardiff University

Email: agera@cardiff.ac.uk