CRI Funded Scientists

Brian Ruffell, PhD, CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR

Moffitt Cancer Center

Area of Research: All Cancers

Dendritic cells are a rare population of immune cell responsible for controlling how the adaptive immune system responds to infection, injury, and cancer. This includes providing supportive cytokines to T cells to engage their tumor killing capacity. Dendritic cells must also continuously migrate to draining lymph node to maintain a reservoir of cytotoxic T cells to replenish those in the tumor. This suggests that dendritic cells are important regulators of the degree and durability of patient responses to immunotherapy. It also suggests that tumors will utilize multiple unique mechanisms to suppress dendritic cell function in order to evade the immune system. By understanding the role of tumor dendritic cells during immunotherapy, including the factors that promote or inhibit cellular function, Dr. Ruffell will identify novel therapeutic targets and combinatorial approaches to enhance immunotherapy. Dr. Ruffell is also in the process of conducting genetic screens in dendritic cells to identify the receptors and pathways that mediate different forms of immune evasion across cancer types and therapies. Targets of interest will be validated and directed towards pre-clinical development. Futhermore, he will interrogate the impact of different immunotherapies on the function of dendritic cells to model their behavior in space and time, with the goal of designing rationale combinatorial therapies that induce robust and durable immune responses. Dr. Ruffell anticipates that these studies will result in new therapeutic approaches that will expand the number of patients that benefit from immunotherapy.

Projects and Grants

Targeting dendritic cells to improve cancer immunotherapy

Moffitt Cancer Center | All Cancers | 2022

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