The immune system is the body's defense against cancer, infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a cascade of immune events, the immune system attacks cancers, organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease. Once the targeted organism is eliminated, through another series of event, the immune system shuts down the attack in order to protect against damage to normal tissues. During this stand down phase, the immune system develops a memory for the organism or cell which was eliminated. The memory is imprinted within the system so that the system can respond quickly with an effective cascade if the target organism returns. The immune system can also learn how to develop a more effective cascade of events strategy for eliminating an invading organism and remember this new cascade in favor of a former cascade of events. In this manner, the immune system continues to learn and develop upon exposure to invading organisms through-out life.
However, as we age, just as our brains become forgetful, so does the immune system. This forgetfulness of the immune system can weaken responses to new invaders. Such is believed to happen with cancer. Most of the major cancers are diseases of age as a result of a weaken ability of the immune system to respond and remember.
In order to cure cancer, we believe it is important to learn how the immune system is controlled and how it responds to invading cancer cells. By understanding both how a healthy and strong immune system functions in response to invading organisms and how invading organisms are able to evade immune attack, we are able to identify the key points in the immune cascade where we might be able to intervene. Immunomonitoring capability is essential for gaining this understanding.