“Tumor development confuses our immune system. On the one hand, it is desperately trying to kill cancer cells while on the other hand, tumors are trying to hijack components of that same immune system, in order to grow or spread faster. I investigated this fascinating situation during my PhD research. When we understand the mechanisms by which tumors control our immune system, we may ultimately be able to develop novel therapeutics targeting these pathways. I focused on regulatory T cells, which are known for their immunosuppressive capacities and thus essential for regulating immune responses. We have discovered that breast tumors mobilize these specific T cells in the lymph nodes from a distance at an early stage of tumor development, which will eventually lead to metastases in the lymph nodes. It is reminiscent of Stockholm syndrome, in which the hostage T-cells acquire sympathy for the captor, the tumor. After the opportunity to perform this exciting research, I am now working at KWF Dutch Cancer Society, where I am involved in immunotherapy research and committed to speeding up the development of novel immunotherapies for cancer patients.”
Kevin will defend his thesis on January 11.
Prof. dr. Karin de Visser