Immune System Could Hold Key to Curing Cancer

Jenny Jiang portrait cropped

Dr. Jenny Jiang and her team in the Jiang Lab on Systems Immunology are investigating the immune system's development and why it tolerates tumors. The answer to these questions could be the key to curing cancer. 

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Many diseases could be cured if the power of our own immune systems could be harnessed. For cancer, the theory of "cancer immunoediting" provides a hypothesis for how tumors escape detection by the immune system. Jiang works at the interface of systems biology, genomics and immunology, and her lab is developing a single cell-based integrated technological approach to challenge this theory.

Jiang, who received the 2015 Damon Runyon-Rachlef Innovation Award for "high-risk/high-reward" ideas, is profiling the immune system repertoire for antigen specificity, receptor gene sequences and cellular function-related gene expression. Her approach may provide explanations for why and how the immune system tolerates tumors, and her proposed study may result in a paradigm shift that could improve cancer immunotherapies and also revolutionize health care with new personalized immune metrics for early disease detection and targeted therapy.