Dr. Martina Molgora, a young researcher of Humanitas at the laboratory of experimental immunopathology of Professor Cecilia Garlanda, recently won two awards: the “Alessandro Moretta young investigator award”, awarded during the conference “Aegean conferences-innate immunity” and the “Best Paper Award” of the Association “Giovanna Tosi” for the fight against cancer.

To be awarded is her research in the field of immunology in cancer, a research born within the doctorate project of Dr. Molgora conducted in the laboratory of experimental Immunopathology of Humanitas. Research focuses on how the immune system acts against the tumor and how it can evade the immune response, in order to understand how to promote the response of the immune system in the presence of a tumor and, in the long term, improve therapies for patients.


The study and publication in Nature

In particular, the study of which Dr. Molgora is the first author and which was published in the prestigious journal Nature, for the first time has revealed the role of the protein IL-1R8 involved in tumor development. This protein acts as a brake against NK (Natural Killer) cells, cells of innate immunity (and therefore defense) that control certain types of tumors, metastases (especially in the liver and lungs) and some viral infections.

The study sees Professor Alberto Mantovani, Scientific Director of Humanitas and lecturer at Humanitas University, as Corresponding author and as Principal Investigator Professor Cecilia Garlanda.

“Since IL-1R8 inhibits the activity of these cells, if we manage to block it, NK cells activate to defend the liver and lung, protecting them from tumors, metastases and viral infections. This is a very important discovery that we hope can achieve the clinical phase from the pre-clinical phase, further paving the way for the increasingly effective use of immunological weapons against various cancers, with the ultimate benefit for cancer patients,” said Dr. Molgora.