Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

New Approaches for Monitoring Immune-Tumor Interactions

Cell Sorter Technology

Researchers identify cancer stem cells using a fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS). This technology was invented by Stanford professor Leonard Herzenberg in the late 1960s.


Drawing on such technologies as flow cytometry and cellular microarrays, researchers are investigating new and more precise methods for profiling different populations of immune cells and measuring their response to tumors. These advances are in turn enabling a deeper understanding of the interactions between the immune system and cancer and why a patient's immune response fails to control cancer in the first place.

Flow Cytometry for Lymphocyte Enumeration and Phenotypic Analysis

Many, if not most, of the experimental strategies being used by program investigators depend on flow cytometry. Dr. Leonard Herzenberg, who developed the first fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS), continues to lead a broad effort to improve the capabilities of FACS instrumentation. More

Cellular Microarrays for Analysis of the T Cell Response to Tumors

One promising immunotherapy aims to evoke a T cell response against tumor-specific antigens. Its development, however, has been hampered by an inability to assess how different T cells respond to tumors and how different tumor therapies may affect this response. To address this challenge, program researchers are pursuing a number of high-throughput methods for isolating and profiling tumor-specific T cells that may have developed in patients endogenously or following vaccination. More

CD107a-based Analysis of Tumor-cytolytic T Cells

When tumor-cytolytic T cells target a cancer cell for destruction, they fuse with its membrane and release cytotoxins. Researchers are exploring the use of CD107a-a vesicle membrane protein that moves to the cell surface during this process-as a marker for tracking the immune response of patients in cancer vaccine trials. It is expected that the ability to rapidly identify and isolate tumor-cytolytic T cells will be useful in cancer immunotherapy. More

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