Collaborative research by UM and NCI brings new hope to cancer patients

Prof Chen Xin from the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, University of Macau (UM), and Dr Joost J Oppenheim from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), have made significant progress in a collaborative research project on safer and more effective treatment for cancer and autoimmune diseases. They found that targeting tumor necrosis factor receptor type II (TNFR2) can enhance anti-tumour immune responses and kill cancer cells, bringing new hope to cancer patients. The related findings have been published in Science Signaling under Science magazine.

Prof Chen has conducted a series of groundbreaking studies on TNFR2’s role in the proper function and proliferation of T lymphocytes. Although counterintuitive and contrary to all previous reports, his research results have been replicated by many research groups from around the world, revolutionising the scientific community’s understanding of the subject. Scientists have been searching for safer and more effective treatment for cancer and autoimmune diseases based on the discoveries made by Prof Chen. A new cancer immunotherapy developed by a research team led by Prof Faustman from Harvard Medical School based on Prof Chen’s research findings has been hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in tumour research.

In addition, Prof Chen has been invited by the Frontiers in Immunology journal to co-edit The Role of TNF-TNFR2 Signal in Immunosuppressive Cells and its Therapeutic Implications with Prof Magdalena Plebanski from Monash University in Australia.

Prof Chen joined UM in 2014. Prior to that, he was a senior scientist at NCI for 15 years and received the Director’s Innovation Award in 2010. Currently he is a research collaborator of the NCI.