Dendritic cells are the generals of the immune system: they control how the immune system responds to infection, injury, and cancer. They provide T cells with important stimulatory molecules, and their migration to tumor lymph nodes is necessary to help replenish pools of killer T cells over time for long-term protection. They’re also very important in immunotherapy, which is why Brian Ruffell, Ph.D., a CRI STAR at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, is identifying pathways of immune suppression using CRISPR/Cas9 genetic screens related to the signaling molecules preferentially produced by dendritic cells that are actively suppressed by the tumor microenvironment, so that they might hone in on improved immunotherapy strategies for patients.
Specifically, Dr. Ruffell is conducting genetic screens in dendritic cells, in order to identify novel therapeutic targets linked to cancer’s ability to evade the immune system. After validating targets of interest, Ruffell plans to advance the appropriate therapies toward pre-clinical development. Additionally, he’s defining how different immunotherapies impact dendritic cell function and migration over time, with the goal of designing rational combination therapies that can induce robust and durable immune responses against cancer.
Projects and Grants
Targeting dendritic cells to improve cancer immunotherapy
Moffitt Cancer Center | All Cancers | 2022
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