Dr. Jean Marshall, PhD
Professor, Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology
Head, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine
The role of mast cells in the regulation of immunity and cancer
Activating mast cells to prevent tumour growth
While mast cells are often associated with allergic disease, these immune cells are also found in large number around solid tumors and may regulate local anti-tumor activity. Dr. Jean Marshall and her research team have shown that activating mast cells with bacterial products can reduce the rate of tumor growth in models of melanoma and lung cancer – not by killing tumor cells directly but by recruiting other cell types and by modifying the body’s response to tumors in a way that prevents tumor growth. The researchers are exploring these and other mechanisms involved in mast cells’ anti-tumor activity. Through these studies, they will be able to assess the potential of selective mast-cell activation in cancer therapy and to better understand the mechanisms that allow certain bacterial products to prevent tumor growth.