Professor Thea Tlsty

Finding the link between chronic inflammation and cancer

Professor Thea Tlsty is leading a Cancer Grand Challenges Programme, and is a Professor of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. She has proposed work that will help understand how chronic inflammation is linked to cancer.

Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response, but its role in the transformation of healthy cells into cancer cells remains poorly understood.

Professor Tlsty’s research group, based in the US, is looking to understand what genetic, epigenetic and functional changes fuel the start and progression of cancers associated with chronic inflammation. More importantly, they are also studying the cells that compose the tissues surrounding where these cancers grow, to understand their influence on cancer development.

Recent work has indicated that signals from the cells surrounding cancers can control whether or not the cancer grows or disappears. Harnessing these signals to prevent or reverse the cancer process would be a powerful new weapon in the therapeutic arsenal. The aim is to determine whether it’s possible to reprogramme the stromal cells (those cells immediately surrounding cancer cells) rather than treating the cancer cells directly.

Professor Tlsty is leading a diverse team of experts involved in the fields of biology, physics and engineering from the US, Canada, the UK and Israel.

The results from this work could lead to new ways to detect and treat cancers caused by inflammation and develop new options to prevent cancer in high-risk patients with chronic inflammatory disease.

All cancer types

Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco, US

Lab website