Home » Innovations » Cancer Outcomes Improve Thanks to Immunotherapy

Dr. Gerry Johnston

Scientific Director, BHCRI

Amazing new technologies are changing cancer treatment and offering hope for vastly improved outcomes. The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI) supports cancer researchers within the Atlantic provinces, providing financial, administrative and educational support to over 250 members spanning 12 campuses and encompassing virtually every Atlantic university and research institution. 

The evolving strategy of immunotherapy utilizes an individual’s immune system to combat cancer, and immunotherapy research programs have gained increasing prominence among BHCRI members. 

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For example, Dr. Shashi Gujar (Dalhousie University) employs ‘cancer-killing’ viruses to direct the immune system to eradicate cancer cells and establish protection against future relapses. By developing innovative immuno-metabolomics strategies, he is poised to discover the next generation of cancer immunotherapies for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. 

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Dr. Sheila Drover (Memorial University of Newfoundland) studies breast cancer determining how anti-cancer agents affect immune molecules on cancer cells to either activate an anti-cancer immune response or inhibit ongoing immune responses. Findings will optimize appropriate chemotherapies in combination with different immunotherapies.

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BHCRI trainee, Daniel Medina-Luna, working with Dr. Andrew Makrigiannis (Dalhousie University) explores how ‘natural killer cells’ within the immune system develop memory following vaccination. This property of immune cells provides new insights to develop effective cancer immunotherapies.

“During almost 40 years as a cancer researcher, I’ve seen many advances, but the promise and growing reality of immunotherapy is truly extraordinary”, says Dr. Gerry Johnston, Scientific Director at The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute. 

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