Understanding the mechanisms driving cancer’s ability to adapt and avoid the immune system is key for cancer immunotherapy. The therapeutic potential of targeting immune-evasion pathways is underscored by the success of checkpoint immunotherapies, but these only work in a fraction of patients. Part of the reason may be due to the scarcity of dendritic cells and the abundance of macrophages, which can promote and suppress anti-cancer T cell responses, respectively. Both dendritic cells and macrophages can originate from immune cells known as monocytes, and together these three types of cells are known as mononuclear phagocytes (MPs). MPs are heterogeneous and come in many functionally distinct subsets, but whether such heterogeneity exists in the tumor microenvironment and how it might impact tumor immunity is not entirely clear.
Therefore, Dr. Haldar aims to (1) characterize functionally distinct subsets of MP cells in solid tumors, (2) understand the molecular bases of development and function of these MP cells within tumors, and (3) identify MP cell-associated pathways that could be targeted with therapies. To pursue these goals, he will combine advanced genetically engineered mouse models, patient-derived samples, and high-dimensional cellular analyses.
Projects and Grants
Targeting Mononuclear Phagocytes for Tumor Immunotherapy
University of Pennsylvania | All Cancers | 2021
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