University's Cutting Edge Research In the Fight Against Cancer


The free lecture, which is open to all members of the public, will be delivered by Dr Steven Coles, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry, who will detail his research to improve the immune system's ability to destroy cancer cells.

The talk, titled Natural Born Killers: The Immune Cell vs Cancer, explains how cancer cells can resist the body's Natural Killer Cells, which are specialised immune cells.

Studies undertaken by Dr Coles have shown that in some cancers molecules on the surface of the cancer cell interact with the Natural Killer Cell and tell it not to kill the cancer cell.

Dr Coles, who is leading a team of scientists at the University, says by blocking these molecules you can re-activate the Natural Killer Cell to function as it should.

He said: "Cancer may present differently in individuals, and for some this could improve rates of survival."

Dr Coles" research remains in the early stages and is yet to move on to clinical trials.

But in the long-term this could be part of a wave of scientific developments in immune therapy allowing doctors to target cancer patients with more effective drugs and potentially reduce the side effects.

Dr Coles, who has been involved in such research since 2008, said: "The immune system can literally be used to fight cancer.

"It's not a cure and this is not a silver bullet for cancer, but it means for some patients this could be beneficial.

"At the moment doctors are treating patients with cytotoxic chemotherapy.

"Many respond achieving long term remission, however lots of patients don't.

"These new methods would distinguish between a healthy cell and a cancer cell.

"Hopefully treatment side effects could be less, but moreover there is potential to get an improved response because you are targeting specific processes that have gone wrong in the cancer."

Dr Coles joined the University of Worcester in 2013 following almost five years as a research fellow at Cardiff University School of Medicine, and is head of the Worcester Biomedical Research Group.

The talk will be held at The Infirmary Museum at the City Campus, in Castle Street, Worcester on Thursday, June 23, from 7pm to 8pm.