How Cancer Therapy Side Effects Can Improve the Understanding of Autoimmune Disease
Cancer immunotherapy side effects often mirror symptoms of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, indicating that investigating these may be useful in uncovering the underlying cause of autoimmune disease. Cancer immunotherapies function by activating the patient’s immune system to launch an attack against cancer cells. While showing promise in treating cancers, immunotherapies can induce a number of side effects, which may arise due to the overactivation of the immune system. As a result of the similarity of these side effects to the symptoms of autoimmune diseases, it has been proposed that there are shared biological mechanisms involved in each. By investigating these side effects, clues which indicate how autoimmune diseases arise, are hoped to be discovered. Ultimately, uncovering shared biological mechanisms for these side effects and autoimmune disease may be helpful in guiding the development of more effective drugs for the management/treatment of both of these conditions.
I am a pharmacology student in the final year of my studies, and I was fortunate to spend a year within the pharmaceutical industry where I was able to get a glimpse of the work done to produce new life-changing drugs. My first research interest at university was in cancer science and the advances made over the decades in how the disease is treated. Recently, my interests have expanded to include how cancer therapies may be helpful in investigating the emergence of autoimmune diseases by close examination of the side effects which may occur. By discussing my findings, I hope to share my excitement for this area of research and demonstrate that improving our understanding of disease may require an interdisciplinary approach. Outside of my studies, I am a keen long-distance runner, rock-climber and avid coffee drinker, all of which I am happy to discuss alongside my research!