Mini Medical School offers a unique perspective into the health sciences at the University of Minnesota. Once a week for six weeks, students – ranging in age from high school students to retirees – with a shared interest in health embark on a journey examining the scientific foundations of health and disease. Presented using common language for ease of understanding complex topics, your guides are internationally renowned University of Minnesota experts who are shaping the way health care is delivered locally and globally.
In addition to learning from our world-renowned faculty in the classroom, students have the opportunity to get supplemental information relevant to the session topic from exhibitors. A 20/20 View of Cancer is designed to give students insight into research centric key cancer concepts and on cancer in Minnesota.
Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy
Ingunn Stromnes, PhD
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Center for Immunology
Center for Genome Engineering
Masonic Cancer Center Member
- The immune system has evolved to eradicate infections and abnormal (cancer) cells.
- There are many mechanisms in place for the immune system to not target healthy tissues. This process is called “self tolerance”.
- While some cancers are caused by infections, most cancers are derived from mutations in normal healthy cells. While cancers grow and acquire more mutations, some mutations in cancer cells can appear as foriegn to the immune system.
- Cancers employ many mechanisms to promote self tolerance and avoid immune detection.
- Harnessing the immune system for cancer therapy is producing remarkable results in some patients and in some cancer types.
- Many immunotherapies in the clinic are drugs that “release the brakes” on the bodies’ own immune system so it is no longer “tolerant” to the cancer cells. However, this can also cause immune-mediated pathology in normal tissues.
- Developing safe and effective immunotherapies is challenged by the complexity of cancer and the risk of “off-target” toxicity.
- Cell engineering is a way to create “designer” and living cells for cancer therapy in those cancer patients where other therapies fail.
Precision Cancer Therapy
Pamala Jacobson, PharmD, FCCP
Professor and Director of the Institute of Personalized Medicine
College of Pharmacy, Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology
- Not all individuals respond to cancer treatment and for some this is related genetics.
- Genetic mutations used to select cancer treatments can be inherited or acquired.
- Not all individuals with cancer have cancer genetic mutations that can be treated with precision medicine therapies.
- For some cancers precision medicine therapy is life long.
- Tumor resistance may develop to precision medicine treatments.