Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer. Unfortunately, it’s also resistant to most current treatments, including checkpoint immunotherapy, which has proven effective in several other types of cancers. Therefore, Dr. Jun Ren aims to develop a deeper understanding of the biology of GBM—and why it doesn’t respond to current immunotherapies—in order to design more effective strategies for patients.
Already, he’s identified two major mechanisms that drive GBM resistance to immunotherapy: abnormal tumor blood vessels, which can block cancer-targeting T cells from infiltrating the tumor, and regulatory T cells, which can suppress the activity of cancer-killing T cells. To address this, Ren is combining checkpoint immunotherapy with strategies aimed at normalizing tumor blood vessels and converting regulatory T cells into a more anti-tumor form. If successful in preclinical models of GBM, this approach could directly inform the design of clinical trials testing these novel combinations to achieve durable responses in human patients, both those with glioblastoma and potentially other hard-to-treat cancers.
Projects and Grants
Reprogramming the Tumor Microenvironment to Improve Immunotherapy of Glioblastoma
Massachusetts General Hospital | Brain Cancer | 2020 | Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D.
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