As a patent attorney with a keen interest in cancer research, I am always excited to learn about new developments in this field. In the last couple of years, cancer research in the UK has received a huge boost with the opening of the Francis Crick Institute in London - the largest biomedical research facility under one roof in Europe.

Yesterday I attended a seminar at the Crick Institute to hear about a fascinating avenue of immunotherapy research - the use of gamma delta T cells. Ten years ago when I worked at Cancer Research UK, it seemed that there were only a handful of research groups focussing on immunotherapy strategies - using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Since then, this field has clearly punched above its weight with many of the successful cancer clinical trials exploiting this approach.  Only yesterday, NICE issued guidance recommending NHS use of a new immunotherapy drug (dinutuximab beta) for treatment of neuroblastoma.

Yesterday’s seminar at The Crick Institute was presented by Professor Adrian Hayday, a pioneer in this field who, together with his team at MIT, was the first to describe a new class of T cells. Professor Hayday is seeking to translate gamma delta T cell therapy to the clinic with trials anticipated to start in 2019. This is yet another example of the promise this field holds in tackling cancer and I for one, will be excited to follow the progress of Professor Hayday‘s work.