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ASI hosts a public forum on Immunology, Immunotherapy and Cancer

Article Type
News Articles
DATE
23 April 2018

By Miguel CastaƱeda & Diana Shinko

To celebrate the International Day of Immunology, the Australasian Society for Immunology and Immune Therapies Project Node at the Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, held a public forum on Immunology, Immunotherapies and Cancer on the 23 April 2018. The forum explored how immunotherapy can harness the power of the immune system to fight against cancer from the perspective of researchers, clinicians and patients. Over 100 people attended the forum and gained valuable insight into the development, impact and future of immunotherapy, courtesy of three amazing speakers: Dr Joanne Reed, Professor Ian William Chubb and Associate Professor Alexander Menzies.

The first presentation by Dr Joanne Reed provided an immunologist's perspective regarding the concepts and rationale underlying the use and development of immunotherapy in cancer. Dr Reed also spoke about how the use of immunotherapy can be expanded beyond cancer, highlighting the potential for the development of treatments for autoimmune diseases.

Professor Ian William Chubb presented next and spoke about immunotherapy from the perspective of a patient, describing his own battle with metastatic kidney cancer. Professor Chubb detailed the physical and psychological changes he experienced during his treatment, as well as his own personal benefit from the use of an immunotherapy drug which put him in remission in a matter of weeks.

Finally, Associate Professor Alexander Menzies presented from the perspective of an oncologist, speaking about the use immunotherapy in the clinic and how these drugs have revolutionised the treatment of melanoma. He also spoke about avenues for further research to improve immunotherapy, emphasising that current immunotherapy is not effective in all patients and therefore not yet perfect.

The presentations were followed by a question and answer session, led by Associate Professor Kellie Charles, which sparked interesting discussion about the accessibility of immunotherapies, how to navigate clinical trials as a patient, and current research into novel immunotherapies.

Additional to the presentations, there was a student poster competition detailing the role of the various components of the immune system. The posters presented on the night were of a high calibre and were highly commended by all the attendees of the forum. The winners of the poster competition were chosen by official judges as well as by the attendees. The night concluded with Dr Helen McGuire announcing the poster competition winners, with the judges' award presented to Tessa Campbell, and the peoples' choice award going to Carolyn Ashley.

The public forum was an enormous success with amazing speakers, engaged audience members, and fantastic posters, all of which provided valuable insight into the use of immunotherapies in cancer for the public.

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