SCIENTISTS in Southampton have discovered new information about how our immune systems could help to improve cancer treatment. 

Led by University of Southampton Associate Professor, Ivo Tews, the study found that the body's antibodies could identify and fight cancer cells more effectively with specific modifications to "fire them up". 

Published in Science Immunology, it is now believed the findings could pave the way to improve antibody drugs that target cancer as well as auto-immune diseases. 

It comes as clinical development in this area had previously been hampered by a lack of understanding of how to stimulate the antibody receptors to the right level as if they become too active, then they can become toxic.

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Professor Cragg of the Centre for Cancer Immunology who helped co-lead the study said: “This study has given us new information about how to engineer antibodies to deliver a better immune response.

"We propose that more rigid antibodies enable the receptors to be bound closer together on the cell surface, promoting receptor clustering and stronger signalling for activity.

"This means by modifying the hinge we can now generate more or less active antibodies in a more predictable way."

Funded by Cancer Research UK, the study brought together structural biologists, immunologists, chemists and computer experts from across the University.

The findings were also made with the help of the Diamond Light Source in Oxford and the University of Hamburg, which Southampton is partnered with.

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