Imaging and Defining Emergent Behaviors of the Immune Response


Mainstream Press:

2020: How Lab Experiments with T Cells Brought a New Wave of Cancer Therapies

Combing through patient records in the 1890s, a young New York surgeon named William Coley noticed something intriguing: After multiple surgeries to remove an egg-sized tumor on a man’s left cheek, the area became infected and the patient developed a high fever. The case was deemed hopeless. Yet, in the coming weeks, inexplicably, the tumor shrank and eventually disappeared.

The stunning observation made Coley wonder: If a cancer shrank after an unintended infection, why not purposefully rev up a patient’s immune system to fight off his or her tumor? During the past century, that bold idea fueled a line of research leading to a revolutionary treatment strategy that earned a 2018 Nobel Prize and has effectively treated thousands of people with cancer. [Read more]

San Francisco Business Times: UCSF's ImmunoX revolution. September 2018

"A gift from Gerson Bakar Foundation is backing a new initiative, called ImmunoX, at the University of California, San Francisco, to look at ways to harness the immune system across several diseases." [Read More]

Cancer Discovery: Natural Killer Cells Enhance Immune Checkpoint Blockade Efficacy. July 2018

"Immune checkpoint blockade can reactivate antitumor T-cell responses to provide clinical benefit in patients with a variety of tumor types. However, the majority of patients do not respond, and the effect of other immune cell types on the response to immune checkpoint blockade has not been well characterized." [Read More]

Cell Press: Answering your questions about tumor-immune crosstalk. February 2018

"How does the immune system regulate tumor growth? How can we harness the immune response to better target tumor cells? And what are the therapeutic implications of doing so?" [Read More]

San Francisco Business Times: Strength in numbers: UCSF is forging collaborative partnerships in new fights against cancer. March 2018

"If you have a good question, you need to find the money with the same interest,” said Max Krummel, a professor in UCSF’s pathology department." [Read More]

 CNBC:  Immunotherapy pioneer researching ways to use body's immune system to fight Cancer. October 2017

New York--Matthew Krummel, University of California San Francisco pathology professor, talks about ways scientists are looking to advance cutting-edge cancer therapy. View video

AP News: The Big Question: Will cancer immunotherapy work for me? September 2017

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Dennis Lyon was a genetic train wreck. Cancer was ravaging his liver, lungs, bones and brain, and tests showed so many tumor mutations that drugs targeting one or two wouldn’t do much good. It seemed like very bad news, yet his doctors were encouraged. [Read More]

GEN News:  Lights, Camera, T-Cell Tentacle Action! May 2017

“All right, Dr. Krummel, I'm ready for my close-up." That’s what the T cell might have said to the director of a video project focused on microvillar dynamics. As you would guess from the word “dynamics,” the T cell isn’t playing the everyman or romantic lead. It’s more of an action hero, sensing danger, leaping into action, and ultimately besting microscopic villains. [Read More]

San Francisco Business News:  How This Cancer Immunotherapy Pioneer is Working to Improve Next-Gen Drugs. Jan 2017

If anyone knows the knock on first-generation cancer immunotherapy drugs, it's Matthew Krummel. Now he's working with three big drug developers to improve next-generation cancer immunotherapies. [Read More]

NY Times:  Immune System, Unleashed by Cancer Therapies, Can Attack Organs. Dec 2016

As Chuck Peal lay in a Waterbury, Conn., emergency room one Sunday in early September, doctors furiously tried to make sense of his symptoms. Mr. Peal, 61, appeared to be dying, and they were not sure why.

He slipped in and out of consciousness, his blood pressure plummeted, his potassium levels soared and his blood sugar spiked to 10 times the normal level. A doctor suspected a heart attack, but uncertainty left him urgently researching the situation on his phone [Read More]

NY Times:   Harnessing the Immune Response to Fight Cancer. July 2016

Steve Cara expected to sail through the routine medical tests required to increase his life insurance in October 2014. But the results were devastating. He had lung cancer, at age 53. It had begun to spread, and doctors told him it was inoperable.

A few years ago, they would have suggested chemotherapy. Instead, his oncologist, Dr. Matthew D. Hellmann of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, recommended an experimental treatment: immunotherapy. Rather than attacking the cancer directly, as chemo does, immunotherapy tries to rally the patient’s own immune system to fight the disease. [Read More]

Nature:  Medical Imaging: Removing the Blindfold. December 2013

Using a variety of creative imaging techniques, researchers are tracking the dynamic interactions of immune and cancer cells. Their results will guide drug development. [Read More]

Nature Methods:  Peering Deep into the Lungs. January 2011

In vivo imaging of the mouse lung – a very challenging organ to image – is reported this week in Nature Methods. Being able to image the lung, and possibly other organs, with a minimum disruption of normal function, should enable scientists to look deeper into many aspects of physiology and disease. [Read More]

Journal of Experimental Medicine:  Matthew Krummel: Visions Enumerated. June 2009

By snapping shots in real time, Matthew “Max” Krummel catches inflammation in the act. [Read More]

UCSF Press Releases

Immune Profile for Successful Cancer Immunotherapy Discovered. June 2018

In a new study published online June 25, 2018 in Nature Medicine, UC San Francisco researchers have identified a key biological pathway in human cancer patients that appears to prime the immune system for a successful response to immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors. [Read More]

UCSF Launches Process to Reimagine Parnassus Heights Campus. March 2018

UC San Francisco has launched a planning process to define a bold, long-term vision to revitalize its historic Parnassus Heights campus to sustain its excellence across research, education and patient care. [Read More]

Video Imaging Reveals How Immune Cells Sense Danger.  May 2017

How do T cells, the beat cops of the immune system, detect signs of disease without the benefit of eyes? Like most cells, they explore their surroundings through direct physical contact, but how T cells feel out intruders rapidly and reliably enough to nip infections and other threats in the bud has remained a mystery to researchers. [Read More] [YouTube Link]

Surprising New Role for Lungs: Making Blood.  March 2017

Using video microscopy in the living mouse lung, UC San Francisco scientists have revealed that the lungs play a previously unrecognized role in blood production. As reported online March 22, 2017, in Nature, the researchers found that the lungs produced more than half of the platelets – blood components required for the clotting that stanches bleeding – in the mouse circulation. [Read More]

New ‘Immunoprofiler’ Initiative will Advance Drug Discovery, Precision Immunotherapy for Cancer.  January 2017

UC San Francisco scientists have formed an innovative research alliance with three global pharmaceutical companies to improve patients’ responses to cancer immunotherapy and to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy across a wider range of cancer types. In 20 percent to 40 percent of patients with certain cancers, immunotherapy can trigger dramatic remissions, but despite recent advances most patients do not experience these profound responses, and many do not respond at all. In some cases, autoimmune side effects may also result. The sources of these variations are, as yet, unknown. [Read More]

Go-Between Immune Cell is Key to Priming the Body’s Fight Against Cancer.   July 2016

Using advanced imaging technology that allowed them to spy on interactions among cells in the lymph nodes of living mice, a research team led by UCSF scientists has identified a cell that is a key player in mounting the immune system’s defense against cancer. The finding opens a new avenue for targeted treatments in the rapidly advancing field of cancer immunotherapy. [Read More]

UCSF Research Suggests New Model for Cancer Metastasis.  March 2016

Scientists at UC San Francisco have been able to directly observe, for the first time, how invasive cancer cells create a beachhead as they migrate to the lung in a mouse model of metastatic cancer. What they saw was utterly surprising: early “pioneer” cancer cells that lodge in the lung generally die, but first they shed zombie-like particles that move around on their own and get gobbled up by waves of immune cells. Many of these immune cells, as if infected by the cancer particles, then burrow into the lung tissue, opening up space for future cancer cells floating through the blood to settle down safely and form new metastatic colonies. [Read More]

First Look at Metastasis.   July 2016

FIRST EVIDENCE: UCSF scientists are shining new light on how cancer spreads. In this video, "pioneer" cancer cells turn a lung's immune cells into zombie drones that protect future invaders, helping cancerous colonies form in new tissue. [Facebook Video]

Killing Cancer Through the Immune System.   February 2014

One of the confounding characteristics of cancer has long been that the body’s usually active patrol against viruses tends to leave deadly cancer cells alone to fester, mutate and spread.

The immune system has this blind spot by design – an immune system that has an ability to attack itself leads to autoimmune diseases, so as protection, it screens out its own tissue. [Read More]

Immune Cells Cluster and Communicate 'Like Bees,' Researcher Says.   March 2013

The immune system’s T cells, while coordinating responses to diseases and vaccines, act like honey bees sharing information about the best honey sources, according to a new study by scientists at UC San Francisco.

“In the morning, each bee goes looking individually for a sugar source, then comes back to the hive and does a dance in front of the other bees describing the location of what it’s found, which helps the hive decide collectively where the best source is,” said senior scientist Matthew Krummel, PhD, a UCSF professor of pathology. [Read More]

'Thin Red Line' Around Breast Cancer.   May 2012

A pioneering approach to imaging breast cancer in mice has revealed new clues about why the human immune system often fails to attack tumors and keep cancer in check. This observation, by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), may help to reveal new approaches to cancer immunotherapy. [Read More]

UCSF Scientists Play Key Role in Success of Yervoy, a New Cancer Drug.    May 2011

Yervoy is unlikely to win a contest for best named drug, but recent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the new entrant in the battle against cancer marks the success of a novel treatment strategy, and is another indicator that immunotherapy has gone mainstream. [Read More]

 New Imaging Advance Illuminates Immune Response in Breathing Lung.  December 2010

Fast-moving objects create blurry images in photography, and the same challenge exists when scientists observe cellular interactions within tissues constantly in motion, such as the breathing lung. In a recent UCSF-led study in mice, researchers developed a method to stabilize living lung tissue for imaging without disrupting the normal function of the organ. The method allowed the team to observe, for the first time, both the live interaction of living cells in the context of their environment and the unfolding of events in the immune response to lung injury. [Read More]


The Iconoclast.    November 2016

In May 2001 a middle-aged woman named Sharon visited her oncologist for what she thought could be her final appointment. Two months earlier, Sharon had been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, and her condition was already well beyond dire. Her liver was riddled with metastases, a massive tumor was slowly collapsing her left lung, and fluid was pooling in the pleural cavity of her chest. Doctors didn’t expect her to live more than a few weeks. [Read More]

California Weekly: Hiding in Plain Sight: A Scientist Trains the Immune System to Attack Cancer from Within.  April 2012

The early 1990s were a heady time for immunology. Researchers had identified a “commander” molecule that launches the body’s white blood cells, called T cells, into battle against invaders such as viruses or bacteria.

Soon scientists were finding other molecular signals that helped rally the T cell troops. Hopes were high that drugs could be developed to treat autoimmune diseases and a range of other illnesses. [Read More]

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