Vintner Grant funded by the 2018 V Foundation Wine Celebration in honor of Karen Aldoroty
Immunotherapy is a very promising new treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to recognize and fight cancer. This research project focuses on immune cells called macrophages, which are a group of white blood cells in the body. Previous studies have showed that when cancer cells grow in the body, they use signals to protect themselves and escape from macrophages. When treatment was given to block these signals, macrophages were able to recognize and attack cancer cells. In the tumors, in addition to cancer cells, there are many other groups of cells including macrophages. Cancer cells can travel from the primary tumors and grow in organs such as the lung, liver and brain. This caused over 90% of cancer patient deaths. Importantly, these organs also have many macrophages. It is very important to examine if and how macrophages can be used to defend against tumor cells and thus to treat cancer. However, there is much that we do not understand about what exactly occurs during these processes. In this study, we would like to understand how macrophages and cancer cells interact with each other and how macrophages decide if or not they should attack tumor cells. This knowledge will be used to develop new immunotherapies that block cancer cells’ protective traits and allow macrophages to attack and clear them.