Using glycans to cure cancer
Glycans play a central role throughout our bodies: every cell is covered with a coat of glycan structures. Each glycan structure has a code, and the Glycotreat project is an attempt to crack that code and use it to fight tumours in the body.
The technique behind creating this cancer vaccine is similar to well-known vaccines. It uses pathogens to trick the body into making antibodies - just as the flu-vaccine does.
Attaching the Glycan
Part of a tumour cell is injected into the body, but not before a glycan is attached. This is what helps the part of the tumour to bind to the dense network of dendritic cells in the skin.
Tricking the body
These dendritic cells process the antigen material and present it to the immune system. In turn, the immune system activates T cells that start attacking the tumour. In short: our body is perfectly capable of erasing a tumour itself. All we need to do is help it a little, by tricking it.
Yvette van Kooyk is the genious behind the cancer vaccine. Learn how she became so passionate about research.