The immune system has evolved to protect against infectious viruses and bacteria, and to maintain tissue homeostasis. But in some instances the immune system can overreact and drive inflammation that leads to tissue damage or even cancer development. Phagocytes, such as neutrophils, play a central role in driving the immune activity and determining the outcome of responses.
Zanoni’s team recently highlighted the importance of two factors—type III interferons and oxidized lipid metabolites—that are produced during inflammatory responses and regulate phagocyte functions and metabolism. Now, his research seeks to link metabolic changes to the expression of type III interferons, which act on tumor-associated neutrophils to alter their metabolism and promote the development of colorectal cancer. Specifically, he aims to
- determine how type III interferons exert their pro-tumor functions in neutrophils,
- establish how immunometabolic changes in the inflamed gut promote tumor formation, and
- use newly identified phagocyte-related pathways to design therapeutic interventions against cancer.
Projects and Grants
Innate immune control of colorectal cancer
Boston Children’s Hospital | Colorectal Cancer | 2021
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