Advancing Immune-Based Therapies for Cancer
Cancer immunotherapies are promising new drug-based treatments that can activate our immune system to destroy cancer cells. As research continues to advance immunotherapeutics, their potential grows to help more people with hard-to-treat cancers worldwide.
Trevor Pugh, Canada Research Chair in Translational Genomics, is a pioneering leader in clinical cancer genomics – an interdisciplinary field focused on collecting and studying complete sets of DNA for answers to outstanding questions about cancer and how to best treat it.
Pugh works directly with doctors specializing in the immune system and cancer to apply genomic research for improving immune-based therapies for more types of cancer. Specifically, he seeks to reveal how the balance of cancer and immune cells within a tumour can affect patient response to immunotherapy and to develop blood tests to track whether these treatments are working.
Using state-of-the-art genomic sequencing and software approaches, he is able to analyze large banks of patient-donated tumour samples to track and compare any genetic changes that take place in tumours and immune cells during a course of immunotherapy. This information is helping to create molecular biomarker tests to predict and monitor how well an immune-based therapy works in individual patients—a less invasive blood-based test that could, if successful, replace more invasive biopsy tests.
In this way, Pugh’s bench-to-beside research will help match patients to the best form of immunotherapy for them – as well as guide development of new and more effective immune-based therapies for more types of cancer, ultimately helping guide treatment of people worldwide.