Immunotherapy has been responsible for a number of promising advances in cancer treatment, but its full potential has been hindered by the ability of cancer cells to evade and outcompete immune cells, especially killer T cells. Due to their overactive metabolism, cancers create a very hostile metabolic niche within the tumor microenvironment, and this can drastically impact the fate and function of T cells. To better understand how, Dr. Elia is dissecting the unique metabolic requirements and vulnerabilities of T cells.
Dr. Elia has developed a platform that allows for the rapid separation of tumor and T cell populations for metabolic analysis. With this system she was able to determine that one-carbon units were a key determinant of T cell activity. Her goal is to use this novel platform to mechanistically understand how one-carbon units promote T cell proliferation and killing function. Furthermore, she will examine the metabolic activity of T cells within tumors and test whether boosting one-carbon metabolism in combination with current checkpoint immunotherapy strategies might help reduce tumor growth in mouse models of cancer. Overall, she expects that these new combination strategies will result in novel approaches with the potential to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment for patients.
Projects and Grants
One Carbon Metabolism in Anti-Tumor Immunity
Harvard University | All Cancers | 2020 | Marcia C. Haigis, Ph.D.
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