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Aurora magazine

ACC is born, the Working Group for oncological immunotherapy

Alliance Against Cancer (ACC) is a new working group coordinated by the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital. Its purpose is to find new ways to use cancer immunotherapy to fight cancer almost as an infection.

Immunotherapy consists of training the patient's immune system to affect only cancer cells. Unfortunately, the approach is not effective on all patients. Scientists from the Baby Jesus Working Group look for biomarkers to identify individuals who could benefit from it. In this way you avoid exposing people to treatments that are useless and possibly harmful.

At the head of the ACC is Professor Concetta Quintarelli, head of the Laboratory of Gene Therapy of the Bambino Gesù Hospital. The main activity will be not only to identify the non-responsive individuals right away, but also to find a way to make them responsive. To this end, researchers will develop new combined therapies.

Cancer cells are often invisible to the immune system. In cancer immunotherapy, the patient receives reagents that target antibodies and immunoglobulins against the tumor. These substances act as a bridge between the immune system and the cancer cells, allowing only the latter to be destroyed. In some cases, however, some T lymphocytes of the patient are genetically modified for this purpose. Once revived, the modified lymphocytes train the immune system to recognize and hit the tumor.

Oncological immunotherapy is a highly innovative approach in the context of solid tumors. For the moment, the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital is the only Italian facility to offer such therapies. Alliance Against Cancer will help to extend these methodologies to other types of cancer. The goal is to create more specific and tailor-made treatments for the patient.