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Cancer Hematopoiesis and Immunology

Harnessing Stem and Immune Cell Populations for Cancer Research

Cancer Hematopoiesis and Immunology Specific Aims

Aim 1: Elucidate molecular mechanisms regulating normal immune/non-immune hematopoietic cell functions during homeostasis and following alterations in cancer and HCT. Studies are focused on cell-intrinsic regulators of immune and non-immune hematopoietic cells in homeostasis, cancer and HCT. Planned efforts emphasize studies on the regulation of adaptive and innate immune cells and non-immune hematopoietic cells by epigenetic modulators and transcription factors.

Aim 2: Understand the roles and contribution of the tissue microenvironment to the function and regulation of immune cells in cancer and HCT. The studies will explore the role of microenvironment within the tumor stroma and bone marrow as well as the gut microbial architecture on immune cell functions during homeostasis and in cancer and HCT. The emphasis will be on cell-extrinsic regulators of immune and non-immune hematopoietic cells in cancer and HCT.

Aim 3: Define key concepts, approaches, and reagents in preclinical studies and translate selected advances into the clinic in collaboration with the Translational and Clinical Research (TACR) Program. CHI Program investigators will emphasize development of novel approaches in preclinical model systems that can then be prioritized and selected for translation as first-in-human or first-in-disease, proof-of-concept clinical trials in collaboration with the TACR Program. Examples of CHI Program studies include targeting pathways of antigen presentation, innate immunity, transcriptional regulation; designing novel immune-based approaches, such as Engager T-cells, nano-cancer vaccine delivery; and modification of the microbiome.

The Cancer Hematopoiesis and Immunology Program seeks to define the role of stem and immune cell populations in the behavior of cancer. Through discovery, our team works to identify insights from cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate both normal and malignant stem and immune cell populations, including:

  • Explaining the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating the function of the immune system and stem cells and the cross-talk between these cells and cancer cells
  • Understanding the role of tissue microenvironment on cancer immunity and stem cell transplantation
  • Defining the key concepts, approaches and reagents in preclinical studies to explore translation of the most compelling advances in stem cell transplantation

Leading edge research resulting from these efforts has led to several state-of-the-art cellular and small molecule approaches to interrupt these immune processes. These innovations have been translated into clinical trials.

Cancer Hematopoiesis Research Focuses on Microenvironments

Guided by skilled co-leaders Pavan Reddy, M.D., and Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D., the successful Cancer Hematopoiesis and Immunology Program integrates the basic science of microenvironments with cancer immunity. These small-scale organism environments include bone marrow, lung and gut microbial tissue and cells that make up a tumor’s environment.

Our scientists study the interactions between T cells and stromal cells within tumors. Leading immunology researchers then define the mechanisms by which tumors avoid rejection by the immune system and develop strategies to prevent them.

Three-Pronged Immunology Program Built for Success

  1. Our leadership and team members have a demonstrated record of successful and productive laboratory-based collaborations that are helping to define better ways to treat cancer through research and discovery.
  2. With the full support of Shared Resources, our team members have access to the technology needed for research endeavors, including Immunologic Monitoring.
  3. Other Rogel Cancer Center-wide support that benefit program members include:
    • A state-of-the-art, Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant, Cellular Therapy Core
    • The Immunotherapy Working Group that conceives interventional trials
    • The interdisciplinary Immune and Cellular Therapy clinical service that delivers therapy

Preventing Graft-vs.-Host Disease (GVHD)

Cancer Hematopoiesis and Immunology researchers are at the leading edge of understanding graft-vs.-host disease, the common and deadly side effect of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplants. Research seeks to prevent GVHD while preserving the graft-vs.-tumor effect – the transplant immunotherapy potency against leukemia and other blood cancers. The program has made a significant impact in this field, including uncovering novel biological insights into the biology of GVHD, the discovery of critical biomarkers that diagnose, predict and prognosticate GVHD, and translation of novel concepts into treatment and prevention of GVHD in patients.

Cancer Hematopoiesis and Immunology Program Leadership

For additional information, please see the Center of Excellence for Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy.

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