Most current immunotherapies work by enhancing the activity of anti-cancer T cells. Unfortunately, if patients don’t already have tumor-targeting T cells, these immunotherapies are ineffective. Therefore, Dr. Mak is exploring an approach that acts on innate immune cells and could potentially complement existing T cell-based immunotherapies. In mice, he found that targeting a protein on innate immune cells protects mice from melanoma development and slows tumor growth. Now, he’s characterizing how this pathway works. Furthermore, Dr. Mak is determining if this approach can synergize with current immunotherapies. Ultimately, his findings should shed light on how the different arms of our immune system interact in the context of cancer, and will hopefully lead to the development of improved immunotherapies for patients.
My career has been focused on dissecting the mechanisms of the immune system in order to harness its power to fight diseases, particularly cancer. With the great help of CRI funding, my team is now poised to bring new immunotherapeutic approaches to bear that will make a significant difference to patient treatment and outcomes.
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