Over the past few years, significant advances have been made in researches on the interactions between the immune system and cancers. Achievements in these fundamental researches have provided vital breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy. In order to promote academic exchanges among experts in this research area, Tsinghua University School of Medicine organized a three-day international conference in collaboration with Nature, the world’s leading science journal. The conference, entitled “Tsinghua-Nature Conference on Inflammation and Cancer”, was held at Tsinghua University on October 23, 2018.
In the last few years, scientists have made great progress in the research areas of inflammation, tumorigenesis, invasion, and metastasis. This was being achieved by unraveling the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying chronic inflammatory diseases and cancers mediated by dysregulation of the inflammatory response. Research findings on the crucial role of the immune system in fighting cancers as well as the development of checkpoint blockade immunotherapy have formed the foundation for the future development of cancer immunotherapy. This conference has brought together internationally renowned scientists and clinicians to explore deeply the association between the development of cancer and inflammation as well as the interactions between cancer cells and their surrounding inflammatory microenvironment. From an integrated view of basic research and translational medicine, this meeting aimed to translate the findings of basic research into clinical practice to provide new insights into cancer treatments.
Immunology plays an important role in the development of modern medicine. The pathogenesis and therapeutic intervention of almost all major diseases are closely related to immunology; these include infectious diseases (such as influenza) and inflammatory diseases (such as autoimmune disorder and allergy). In addition, cancer immunotherapy has been widely recognized as the most promising new cancer treatment in recent years. The journal Science has named cancer immunotherapy the 2013 “Breakthrough of the Year”. The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded jointly to two cancer immunotherapy pioneers: James P. Allison from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Tasuku Honjo from Kyoto University.
Tumor cells have complex interactions with their local and systemic environment throughout the stages of tumor initiation, promotion, and progression. Immune cells may promote or inhibit tumor growth and metastasis, depending on the types and stages of cancers and the affected organs. In an attempt to survive and proliferate, tumor cells may exploit the immune response or evade the immune surveillance by employing various immune escape mechanisms. In order to explore how inflammation affects the development and metastasis of cancers, this meeting focused on the latest findings in this research area, covering different topics such as pro-tumor and anti-tumor functions of inflammation as well as the role of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment.
Nature Research is highly regarded by the international scientific community for its scientific excellence and commitment to clear scientific communication. In keeping with this tradition, Nature Conference aims to disseminate scientific research findings clearly and facilitate communication and collaboration among scientists around the world. The first Nature Conference was held in China in 2011. The 2018“Tsinghua-Nature Conference on Inflammation and Cancer”, jointly organized by Nature and Tsinghua University School of Medicine, not only brought together cross-disciplinary researchers in cancer biology and immunology, but also invited biologists and immunologists from medical field to share the latest research findings and explore the unresolved issues in this research field.
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