SLU news

Cancer Treatment with Immunotherapy – From Human to Canine

Published: 13 October 2023
Guestprofessor Sara Mangsbo

- I want to take research a step further than just an article. My research has led to companies, job opportunities, and to research resulting in products and drug candidates used in society," says Sara Mangsbo, a guest professor in comparative medicine at the Department of Clinical Sciences at SLU. The professorship is funded by Skriftställare Birgitta Carlsson Foundation.

Guest Professor Sara Mangsbo rode her electric bike to the Green Innovation Park (GIP), which she helped establish in 2020. SLU is not entirely new territory. However, being a guest professor in comparative medicine is a new endeavor.

- I hope for strengthened research collaborations in a research field that spans across species, where we can contribute to increased understanding and also see both similarities and differences in the immune system and its role in cancer, especially focusing on how we can manipulate the immune response with biological drugs.

- In the end, it may involve developing drugs that work better in dogs, but also an increased understanding of human diseases through canine oncological diseases, says Sara Mangsbo.

New research areas?

Sara Mangsbo is now very curious about canine oncology and which immunotherapies can be used and which should not be used in veterinary medicine.

- This is a real effort driven by the desire to bring our worlds together. The focus will be on dogs and what we know today in human medicine. We know very little about how biological drugs that work well in humans work in dogs and how they should be designed to actually work best in dogs.

Sara Mangsbo believes that this work can ultimately lead to new research areas.

She has been called a super-entrepreneur and a super-talent who can make cancer vaccines a reality. She has received awards such as Uppsala University's prize for successful knowledge transfer, the "Hjärnäpplet."

- Research takes small steps forward, says Sara Mangsbo, looking somewhat embarrassed as she leafs through a bundle of articles that are part of the research for the interview.

Sara Mangsbo praises the team, the teamwork.

- This gives the impression that I'M doing things. I can be a part of something, a visionary. If it's a company, I don't want it to stand or fall with me.

Moving towards utility Sara Mangsbo is a newly appointed professor at the Department of Pharmacy, Immunology, at Uppsala University. And from the turn of the year 2023/2024, she will be a guest professor at SLU.

- I can improve people's ability to see a way forward, and also offer a network.

The development of drugs for humans is often a long but also quite linear and clear process. Now, Sara Mangsbo will have the opportunity to explore what the journey looks like for veterinary medicine drugs.

"We must research cost-effective and safe drugs."

- At heart, I'm a researcher, but I'm also passionate about innovation and taking innovation towards utility, says Sara Mangsbo.

Cancer in humans and dogs Both humans and dogs have a similar incidence of cancer during their lifetime.

Examples of tumors that occur in both humans and dogs are sarcomas, tumors that occur in muscles, bones, cartilage, and connective tissue. Other examples are blood tumors (hematological diseases), bladder cancer, brain tumors, and skin cancer (melanoma).

In human medicine, immunotherapy (as a collective term) has been established in clinical practice, especially in hematological cancer forms, bladder cancer, and skin cancer, but has not had the same success in sarcomas and brain tumors yet. However, a lot of research on immunotherapy is ongoing in these cancer forms as well.

Lectures will be recorded On Monday, October 23rd, Sara Mangsbo and other guest professors will give short lectures. These lectures will be recorded and posted on SLU's website.

More about Sara Mangsbo:

Married with two children. In the family, there are the cats Sixten and Stig and an Icelandic horse named Háfur.

- When we lived in an apartment, it was challenging to have pets. When we moved to a house, it felt important to give the children the opportunity to have a relationship with animals, so we got two wonderful cats. It has worked out so well!

- The Icelandic horse is probably a selfish thing. It's my way to disconnect from work. The horse is my way of not needing to go to therapy, she says somewhat jokingly.

Sara Mangsbo is interested in sports, and that spills over into her interest in horses too. It's fun to compete. The horse is young, and Sara is new to Icelandic horses, so it will take the time it takes to prepare for competitions.


What is immunoncology?

Immunoncological treatments are medications that utilize the body's immune system to combat cancer. Immunoncology drugs activate the immune system, enabling it to detect cancer cells and destroy them.

Cancer cells are adept at masking themselves and mutating, so the treatment must provide the immune system with a lasting memory, allowing it to adapt to cancer in the future.

Read more about:

The Birgitta Carlsson Foundation.

Sara Mangsbo's research at Uppsala University:

Continued advancements in the development of new cancer therapies.