Cancer immunology is the study of the interactions between the immune system and cancer cells. The aim is to discover innovative therapies using the immune system to retard the progression of the disease.
The immune system aims to identify and destroy pathogenic microorganisms that invade our body. Cancer cells, however, are cells of our body, so the immune system may not recognize them as "enemy." In fact, cancer cells often even exploit the immune cells to help them proliferate. Tumor associated macrophages, for instance, are known to influence cancer cells by modulating immune functions, and accelerating angiogenesis, but not much is known on the cytokine signaling network that regulate this process.
Recent years have seen the development of cancer immunotherapy, that is, the use of the immune system to attack malignant tumor cells. This can be achieved either by immunization of the patient by a vaccine, or by administering a therapeutic antibody as a drug which will recruit the immune system to recognize and destroy tumor cells.
Recent years have also seen the development of mathematical models that aim to represent, at least at the conceptual level, the cancer-immune interactions, as well as models that represent immunotherapy processes. These models are formulated by systems of ODEs or PDEs.
The present workshop will bring together cancer biologists and mathematical modelers to review the state of present knowledge and explore future directions. It will also provide an environment that will encourage communication and new contacts among the biologists and mathematicians. Formal lecture and informal discussions will articulate future directions where mathematical models can significantly enhance understanding of the complex relations between tumor cells and the immune cells, and suggest novel approaches to therapy.