Ask the Cancer Experts: Dr. Catherine Maurice


Here's your chance to Ask the Cancer Experts, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a question. Dr. Catherine Maurice tackles immunotherapy on brain tumours. #conquercancer
The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the Top 5 Cancer Research Centers in the world.
Alek: What's your take on immunotherapy? Would you ever consider trying this procedure on brain tumours?
We went to Dr. Catherine Maurice, neuro-oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, to tell us more about immunotherapy and brain tumours.

Dr. Maurice: Thank you Alek for this very interesting question. Immunotherapy and brain tumours are a very hot topic at the moment.

We are using right now in Canada and the United States immunotherapies as part of clinical trials; as you may have heard the vaccine trials for example. One of the challenges for the treatment of brain tumours is that the brain and spine are protected by a layer that we call the blood-brain barrier. That is a very important filter to protect the brain and spine from the toxins that can be present in the blood stream. However, this is also a challenge to deliver chemotherapy, which is currently the standard of care, as well as radiation therapy in the context of malignant brain tumours. 

For the purpose of immunotherapies, we expect to enhance the immune system like if we're fighting an infection, for example. The small cells, the B-cells and the T-cells, are very small in size and can potentially go into the blood-brain barrier, recognize the tumour, and start fighting it. This is the purpose of such a treatment; we're going to have trials very soon at Princess Margaret, and I'm very enthusiastic about it.

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