- Cancer Immunology and Microbial Oncology Research Program
- The Next Frontier of Cancer Treatment
The Cancer Immunology and Microbial Oncology Program at the GW Cancer Center is focused on the mechanisms of cancer development and immune system regulation, as well as the role of viruses and pathogens in cancer biology and immunogenicity (the ability of an antigen to provoke an immune response). By studying how the immune system responds to cancer, we can develop new cancer therapies like antibody-based therapies, cancer vaccines and the next generation of CAR-T cell therapies, with a special emphasis in solid malignancies.
About Cancer Immunology and Microbial Oncology
Cancer Immunology primarily works to understand the role of the immune system in the progression and treatment of cancer and leverage these insights into novel treatments against the disease by helping the immune system attack cancer directly or stimulate the activities of the immune system. Microbial Oncology is focused on the role of viruses and pathogens in cancer biology and immunogenicity. Research activities across the GW Cancer Center include a focus on epigenetic drugs to activate immune signaling, or combining epigenetic drugs to increase immunogenecity. Researchers are also examining the role of selective HDAC inhibition in lymphoma biology and immunogenicity. Additional research involves gene-modifying T cells and Natural Killer cells by engineering new functions or properties to improve potency and enhancing resistance to the tumor microenvironment, including new functions such as sectretion of antibodies targeting cancer markers.
Aims and Themes
The four areas of research in cancer immunology and microbial oncology are:
- Discover molecular and epigenetic mechanisms regulating tumor-immune cell interaction
- Develop approaches combining cell therapy with other immune therapies to overcome the immune suppresive tumor environment and conduct clinical trials combining cell therapy and immunotherapy
- Investigate the role of emerging viruses, such as HERVs, and pathogens in cancer biology and immunogenicity
- Develop clinical interventions for microbial-driven cancers, such as those associated with HIV, EBV, HPV, HCV, with a particular focus on unmet needs in the community
Catherine Bollard, MD, associate center director for translational research and innovation at the GW Cancer Center, co-leads the Cancer Immunology and Microbial Oncology Program at the GW Cancer Center. Dr. Bollard also serves as director of the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Children’s Research Institute at Children’s National Health System, and professor of pediatrics and microbiology, immunology and tropical medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Kieron Dunleavy, MD, director of the lymphoma program at the GW Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, co-leads the Cancer Immunology and Microbial Oncology Program at the GW Cancer Center. Dr. Dunleavy is a medical oncologist and expert in lymphoid malignancies whose work is focused on the biology and treatment of lymphoid diseases.
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