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Eric Yung: Collaborating to Bring Immunotherapy to Patients

November 17, 2015

Hello! My name is Eric Yung and I am the staff scientist and lab manager in the Holt Lab, which basically makes me responsible for all of the day-to-day activities of the lab.

I’ve been involved in cancer research for almost a decade now and immunogenomics for the last two years. I got started due to scientific curiosity, really. I began my PhD studying viruses, HIV specifically. When the link was made between cancer and certain viruses (like HPV), I was curious about how that happened, and how we can use viruses to hopefully cure cancer. I’ve been using viral vectors as gene therapy delivery systems ever since.

The field of immunogenomics and immunotherapy is exciting – the thought that we might understand how our own immune systems can be used to treat cancer is a very intriguing goal. Most of this work can only be done in a collaborative, well-supported setting like the BC Cancer Agency. We need a lot of research specialists, donors to get the T cells to work with and the core facilities here to sort out special subgroups and types of cells – all funded by the BC Cancer Foundation.

We hope that with our understanding of how the immune system’s T cells can potentially recognize cancerous cells, and in collaboration with our colleagues at the Deeley Research Centre in Victoria, we can isolate and expand rare populations of T cells to mount a response against solid tumors. The hope is that eventually we can assist your own immune system to eliminate solid tumors. Our upcoming immunotherapy clinical trials will be the first step in producing the transplantable T cells for patients.