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William Viney (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Julia Swallow (University of Edinburgh)
Personalised Cancer Care and COVID-19
Our research in a busy west London breast cancer service has observed developments associated with personalised medicine and healthcare - screening and diagnostic technologies, treatments, translational research, and data sharing techniques. This talk will introduce and discuss the emergence of personalised practices in this hospital service when, in 2020-21, they were affected by COVID-19.
‘Harnessing the Little White Cells’: Tracing Practices of Immunity and Cancer
Immunotherapy has been heralded as a therapeutic revolution as it utilises the patient's own body to treat cancer, potentially extending progression free survival for patients with intractable cancers. Clinical concerns have however, been raised regarding long-term treatment side-effects and toxicities, and predicting response and prognosis. Drawing on ethnographic data, this paper traces the material practices and handling of immunity across laboratories and clinics, focussing on how immunotherapy treatments, including checkpoint inhibitors and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapies, are (re)shaping what cancer is and how it is treated, alongside (re)configuring patients’ understandings and experiences of cancer.
About the Speakers
William Viney is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London, contributing to the project 'People Like You': Contemporary Figures of Personalisation. He is the author of Twins: Superstitions and Marvels, Fantasies and Experiments (2021)
Julia Swallow is a Humanities and Social Science Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society at the University of Edinburgh interested in how developments in contemporary biomedicine shape disease practices and disease experiences, involving empirical work in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Her current research entitled, ‘'Harnessing the little white cells’: Tracing practices of immunity and cancer’ examines how personalised immunotherapy treatments - a rapidly emerging new therapeutic paradigm - are shifting how advanced cancer is understood, approached, managed and experienced.
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