Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

Our department is developing novel approaches for immunotherapy, and we closely collaborate with our clinical colleagues to advance important discoveries to clinical trials.

  • The Wucherpfennig Lab has developed a novel approach for systematic discovery of negative regulators of T cell function in the tumor microenvironment and discovered a large number of genes that represent candidate therapeutic targets. Current efforts focus on applying these insights to adoptive T cell therapy for human solid cancers. Targeting of key negative regulators may boost the function of T cells in solid tumors which have a highly immunosuppressive microenvironment.
  • The Novina Lab is using CRISPR-Cas9 based systems to develop novel approaches to regulate key inhibitory genes for adoptive cellular therapies.
  • The Cantor Lab has found that depletion of CD8 regulatory T cells enhances anti-tumor responses in mouse models and is studying approaches to modulate their function.

We are also closely collaborating with our clinical colleagues to advance the development of novel cancer immunotherapies. We are developing novel technology platforms (including mass cytometry, CyTOF) for in-depth characterization of immune cell populations in human cancers and experimental animal models. We believe that this technology will substantially enhance our ability to study immunological mechanisms in patients enrolled in clinical trials of novel immunotherapies. We are also working on a novel technique for isolation of therapeutic antibodies from patients who respond to immunotherapies, based on the observation that such patients can mount immune responses against inhibitory immune molecules (Wucherpfennig and Dranoff Labs).

Isolation of antibodies from cancer patients responding to immunotherapies (Blood 2011, 118:348, Wucherpfennig Lab)