Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

Cancer represents a serious perturbation of the normal architecture of a tissue, for example, the breast or colonic epithelium in the case of these solid tumors; or hematopoietic organs, for example, the spleen and bone marrow in the case of liquid tumors like leukemia. This disruption always comes to the attention of the immune system. A diverse and fascinating area of research seeks to define and manipulate the molecular, cellular and intracellular signal transduction pathways within tumor microenvironments and within the tumor-infiltrating immune cells themselves. A deeper understanding of these processes of the innate and adaptive immune systems will enable us to help turn the resources of the immune system against cancers more effectively. Many ITP faculty are involved in this area, including researchers who study a subset of CD4+/CD25+/Foxp3+ T cells called ‘regulatory T cells’ and their role in graft vs host disease, immunosuppression in tumor environments and tolerance (Drs. Center, Sherr and Taylor); and cytokine and interleukin signal transduction (Drs. Center, Cruikshank, Remick). Other faculty are studying T cell migration and infiltration (Dr. Cruikshank), immune surveillance (Dr Faller) and cytotoxicity towards tumors (Dr Sharon), signal transduction and apoptosis in T cells (Dr Lerner) and in animal models of cancer, including breast cancer (Drs Seldin and Sherr) and lymphoma (Dr Denis), new anti-cancer agent design and testing (Drs Denis, Faller and Murphy), and the possibilities of stem cells for therapy (Dr Mostoslavsky). Most importantly, all ITP faculty work closely together and learn from each other in a highly stimulating environment that facilitates cross-disciplinary insight and hypothesis development. This is a fast-moving and exciting field with major impact on public health.

Faculty involved in this research are: