• T-cell receptors (TCRs)

    Molecules found only on the surface of T-cells. TCRs must bind to special molecules on the surface of antigen-presenting cells before they can receive information about a threat. This connection is the first signal (Signal 1) necessary to activate the T-cell to respond to the tumor. [Patient Resource LLC]

  • T-cells

    Immune cells that recognize specific antigens during antigen presentation. T-cells are the major players in the immune system’s fight against cancer. Their activation and activity are two of the main focuses in immunotherapy research. [Patient Resource LLC]

  • Telomerase

    An enzyme in cells that helps keep them alive by adding DNA to telomeres (the ends of chromosomes). Each time a cell divides, the telomeres lose a small amount of DNA and become shorter. Over time, the chromosomes become damaged and the cells die. Telomerase helps keep this from happening. Cancer cells usually have more telomerase than most normal cells. [NCI]

  • Telomere

    The ends of a chromosome. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres lose a small amount of DNA and become shorter. Over time, the chromosomes become damaged and the cells die. In cancer cells the telomeres do not get shorter, and may become longer, as the cells divide. [NCI]

  • Transcription

    The process by which a cell makes an RNA copy of a piece of DNA. This RNA copy, called messenger RNA (mRNA), carries the genetic information needed to make proteins in a cell. It carries the information from the DNA in the nucleus of the cell to the cytoplasm, where proteins are made. [NCI]

  • Transcriptomics

    The study of all RNA molecules in a cell. RNA is copied from pieces of DNA and contains information to make proteins and perform other important functions in the cell. Transcriptomics is used to learn more about how genes are turned on in different types of cells and how this may help cause certain diseases, such as cancer. [NCI]

  • Translation

    The process by which a cell makes proteins using the genetic information carried in messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA is made by copying DNA, and the information it carries tells the cell how to link amino acids together to form proteins. [NCI]

  • Translational research

    The research pipeline or continuum were promising findings from the laboratory move to testing in humans via progressive clinical studies and then to implementation in the health system and finally to broad-scale implementation, where benefits accrue to the larger population. The goal of translational research is to move basic science discoveries more quickly and efficiently into practice. It is often summarized by the terms “bench-to-bedside” and “bedside-to-community” research.

  • Tumour heterogeneity

    Differences found in cancer cells in terms of their shape and structure (morphology), their gene expression, their metabolism, and their capacity to move, proliferate, and metastasize. Types:

    • Interpatient: variation between patients with cancers at the same site of origin
    • Intrapatient: variation within tumours in the same person
    • Intratumour: variation within a single tumour

    The diversity or heterogenous nature of tumours is the key reason why identifying effective cancer treatments is so challenging and it is the impetus behind a precision medicine approach.

  • Tumour microenvironment

    The normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels that surround and feed a tumour cell. A tumour can change its microenvironment, and the microenvironment can affect how a tumour grows and spreads. [NCI]

  • Tumour suppressor gene

    A type of gene that makes a protein called a tumour suppressor protein that helps control cell growth. Mutations (changes in DNA) in tumour suppressor genes may lead to cancer. [NCI]

  • Tumour-specific antigen

    A protein or other molecule that is found only on cancer cells and not on normal cells. Tumor-specific antigens can help the body make an immune response against cancer cells. They may be used as possible targets for targeted therapy or for immunotherapy to help boost the body’s immune system to kill more cancer cells. Tumor-specific antigens may also be used in laboratory tests to help diagnose some types of cancer. [NCI]

  • Tumourigenesis

    The transformation of normal cells into cancer cells. Also referred to as carcinogenesis (although some authors make a distinction). This multi-stepped process is characterized by changes at the cellular, genetic, and epigenetic levels and abnormal cell division. Tumours enlarge because cancer cells lack the ability to balance cell division by cell death (apoptosis) and by forming their own vascular system (angiogenesis). The transformed cells lose their ability to interact with each other and exhibit uncontrolled growth, invade neighbouring tissues and eventually spread through the blood stream or the lymphatic system to distant organs. (From <em>Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis: Contributions of Molecular Epidemiology</em>, IARC Scientific Publication No. 157).