As an inaugural CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR, Dr. Andrea Schietinger is working to better characterize the factors that dictate T cell dysfunction and ultimately develop strategies that can overcome these hurdles and make immunotherapy more effective for more patients.
The immune system has enormous power to detect and eliminate pathogens; however, harnessing this power to fight cancer has proven challenging. A major barrier is that T cells found in tumors and specific for tumor-specific (mutated) proteins are not functional, allowing cancers to grow unimpeded. The introduction and approval of immune checkpoint blockade and adoptive T cell therapy have reinvigorated the field of cancer immunotherapy; however, significant clinical responses are only observed in a subset of patients and cancer types. To address these clinical challenges and design predictably effective cancer treatments, Dr. Schietinger is working to uncover the underlying mechanisms that regulate tumor-specific T cell functional states and their potential for therapeutic reprogramming.
To do so, her lab is using preclinical models as well as and cancer patient samples to determine the molecular programs regulating the function of these tumor-infiltrating T cells. They are particularly interested in understanding the epigenetic wiring and role of specific factors associated with T cell dysfunctional states and how they define a T cell’s therapeutic reprogrammability. Using sophisticated models and analytical methods combined with high-resolution in vivo imaging techniques, Schietinger plans to decipher the cellular and molecular programs regulating tumor-specific T cells, and design and test innovative and effective T cell reprogramming strategies for cancer therapy. She will also work together with her clinical colleagues to translate the scientific insights gained from their models into improved immune-based treatments for cancer patients.
Read interview with Dr. Andrea Schietinger
Projects and Grants
Decoding and reprogramming T cells for cancer immunotherapy
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | All Cancers | 2019
An autoimmune stem-like CD8 T cell population drives type 1 diabetes
Sofia V. Gearty et al | Nature | 2021 | DOI
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