Research at the University of Southampton is looking at how immunotherapy can enable the body’s immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells.

This video (speeded up about 100 times) shows a microscopic view of a single Killer T cells scampering around killing a number of slow moving cancer cells. It's a serial killer and if you watch closely you will see that as the single anti-cancer T cell visits each cancer cell in turn, it ‘burrows’ into the surface membrane. The cancer cell then starts to ‘bubble’ as it dies. Once these killer T cells have been developed in the body, they can provide long lasting protection against further cancer growth.

Your immune system is the best weapon you have against cancer. But cancer cells are ingenious and hard to defeat. Immunotherapy is a revolutionary new treatment, supercharging your body’s natural defences to find and destroy cancer. You can be part of the cure.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. And, with an ageing population, it’s becoming much more common. In the UK, one in two of us will be diagnosed in our lifetime.

More than 90 per cent of patients treated with immunotherapy who have survived more than two years remain cancer free

Professor Martin Glennie, Head of Cancer Sciences, University of Southampton
  • Immune 'killer T Cells attacking a cancer cell

  • Dr Edd James with researcher Emma Reeves

  • Cancer cell under attack

Immunotherapy treatments developed at Southampton do not only destroy visible cancer cells but also seek out and eradicate hidden cancers in other parts of the body. Potentially, they give our bodies a lifetime of immunity. Our patients who were previously given months to live are now cancer free.

Our clinical trials of drugs for advanced and terminal cancers, such as lung, skin (melanoma) and pancreatic cancers, and neuroblastoma, are showing remarkable results. Groundbreaking discoveries, such as vaccines, are moving out of the lab and reaching patients. As many as half our patients with difficult-to-treat cancers are showing significant improvements. And an amazing 20% are cancer free. We are making exciting inroads but we have more to learn. Immunotherapy has the potential to treat 100 different types of cancer.

Your immune system. Your support. The cure for cancer? You’re it

Our new treatments in the form of vaccines and antibodies direct special immune cells against cancers. These ‘killer’ cells can control and shrink cancer and give long-lasting protection.

Peter Johnson, Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Southampton

Leading academics explain how early-stage immunology research at the University of Southampton is leading to treatments for many forms of cancer.

Finding ways to cure cancer using immunotherapy cannot be done alone. It requires the contributions of many different specialists working as a team. Our new Centre for Cancer Immunology will be a hub for interdisciplinary research, enabling collaboration between leading scientists and medics worldwide. By bringing people together, we know we will make progress faster than ever before.