CRI Funded Scientists

Giulia Furesi, PhD, CRI Postdoctoral Fellow

Washington University School of Medicine

Area of Research: Breast Cancer

Dr. Furesi aims to characterize Osterix (Osx, a protein)-expressing cells and investigate the mechanisms by which Osx impacts tumor development and anti-tumor immunity. Her results will provide a new avenue for therapeutic intervention that can be used in combination with current therapies to improve outcomes for cancer patients. 

The immune system protects us against infections, and it is critical for fighting cancer. However, cancer cells have mechanisms to suppress the activity of immune cells against them. While immunotherapy has allowed to greatly overcome this problem, some tumor types such as breast show little response to these therapies, and the reasons why remain unclear.  

Increasing evidence suggests that the environment surrounding the tumor, known as the tumor microenvironment, can protect cancer cells from the immune system. The tumor microenvironment includes cancer, immune cells, and other noncancerous cell types that interact with each other to promote tumor growth. Noncancerous stromal cells have received increased attention due to their ability to suppress immune responses. Therefore, stromal targeting approaches may be a new strategy to improve the efficacy of current cancer therapies.  

Dr. Faccio’s lab has recently discovered a population of tumor-infiltrating stromal cells that normally reside in bone and express Osx. They demonstrated that these cells not only support tumor growth but are also able to produce immunosuppressive factors.  

Projects and Grants

Regulation of tumor progression and immune suppression by a novel osteolineage-derived stromal population

Washington University School of Medicine | Breast Cancer | 2023 | Roberta Faccio, PhD

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