Rap G Protein Signaling in Haematologic Malignancy

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Published: 20 Nov 2012
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Dr Nagahiro Minato – Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan

Dr Nagahiro Minato talks to ecancer at the IFOM-Kyoto University Joint Symposium in Milan about his work on cancer immunology and how the immune system can cope with tumour cells, particularly leukaemia cells. 

 

Dr Minato’s research centres on the development of lymphocytes and how they become malignant.

What are the main interests of this lab?

I actually have been working on the development of lymphocytes, particularly T-cells. I’ve been working many years for cancer immunology, more as basic aspects of how the immune system can cope with the endogenous tumour cells, particularly leukaemia cells. So, in a sense, it’s basic cancer immunology.

Your research relates to T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia?

Yes, it’s included because I am involved in the normal development of lymphocytes. At the same time I deal with how those normal immune components become the malignant situation so it includes both physiological and pathological aspects of the immune system.

What about immunotherapy?

You say immunotherapy, I’m more interested in the basic immune response against tumours or cancer cells which, of course, eventually might contribute to the immunotherapy which I hope. But so far I’m less interested in the basic aspects of the interaction of the immune system with cancer cells.

Will this work lead to a clinical benefit?

Sure, because there are lots of attempts to prime the immune system to cancer treatment which unfortunately, I must say, have not been so successful. Probably something is missing. There is understanding of the basic aspects of the interaction between the immune system and cancer cells so to make up a more logical or reasonable way of treating cancers from the aspect of the immune system we have to understand more on the basic aspects of the immune response against tumours or cancers.

What brings you to Italy?

Actually last year I got some letters from Marcus and other people from IFOM and they enquired about the possibility to set up some collaborative research laboratory in Kyoto. So they visited us and we had a very nice time to discuss about this possibility. It turned out that, OK yes, to start with, we need to know each other better in terms of science. So we planned to set up some joint symposium, possibly in Milan. This has been realised now although I didn’t expect this big symposium. It turned out to be a very successful symposium and I enjoyed it a lot. So this symposium would help us to understand each other very much. So we’re continuing to pursue the possibility of the collaborative research laboratory possibly in Kyoto.