Understanding the role of type 1 interferon in resistance to cancer immunotherapy

Chemotherapy is the main form of treatment for cancer, but it cannot cure most types of cancer. Another form of treatment is immunotherapy, which aims to stimulate cells of the body's immune system (T cells) to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, cancers may become resistant to T cells in the same way they learned to resist chemotherapy. This resistance is partly caused by a blood protein called interferon.

This project aims to improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy. Based on previous work, the research team will investigate the use of interferon inhibitors to treat cancer cells from patients with leukemia. This approach is expected to increase cure rates with immunotherapy in leukemia and many other forms of cancer. Moreover, the results of this study can open the path to the development of new and innovative cancer drugs based on interferon inhibition.

The project is led in Canada by the Sunnybrook Research Institute-University of Toronto in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), and Jilin University (China).

This project was selected for funding through the third research competition of the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Program, a partnership between IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Israel Science Foundation, and the Azrieli Foundation.

Project ID


Project status



36 months

IDRC Officer

Fabiano Santos

Total funding

CA$ 670,000


Canada-Israel Health Research Program

Project Leader

David Spaner


Sunnybrook Research Institute

Institution Country


Institution Website