CRI Funded Scientists

Timothy Lippert, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Pennsylvania

Area of Research: Ovarian Cancer

High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) is a devastating tumor that accounts for 50% of all ovarian cancer-related deaths. In 2017, more than 230,000 American women were living with ovarian cancer and the rate of relative 5-year survival between 2010-2016 was 48.6%. One of the reasons for this poor prognosis is the fact that most cases are already metastatic at the time of diagnosis and tumors develop resistance to therapy easily. The genetic material of cancer cells is abnormal, sequences are often mutated and re-arranged. This feature of cancer cells, called genomic instability, underlies tumor metastasis and therapeutic resistance.

Dr. Lippert’s group recently discovered that the innate immune pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) are capable of sensing this genomic instability leading to inflammation. This inflammation, and the ensuing recruitment of immune cells, is important for clearance of cells by the immune system. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are the great success story of cancer immune-therapy and they trigger tumor cell killing by immune cells. However, this therapy is ineffective in tumors that are not inflamed and where there are no immune cells. This is the case in HGSOC and clinical trials with immune checkpoint inhibitors have been unsuccessful. Dr. Lippert hypothesizes that PRR activation can trigger inflammation and recruitment of immune cells in this cancer, rendering such tumor susceptible to immune checkpoint inhibitors. If successful, such combination therapy will result in tumor clearance, a disruptive technological advancement that would revolutionize the treatment of this cancer.

Projects and Grants

The role of pattern-recognition receptors in anti-tumor immunity against HGSOC

University of Pennsylvania | Ovarian Cancer | 2021 | Roger Greenberg, MD, PhD

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