While much of cancer immunology focuses on the tumor environment itself—and rightly so—cancer also affects immune cells elsewhere in the body, and vice versa. Recently, Matthew H. Spitzer, Ph.D., a CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR at the University of California, San Francisco, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology, found that immune cells from outside tumors are both required and sufficient for durable immunotherapy responses. Unfortunately, fundamental gaps remain in our knowledge of how anti-cancer immune responses can be initiated outside the tumor, limiting our ability to harness this property therapeutically.
To address that unmet need, Dr. Spitzer is leveraging an atlas he created that characterizes how different cancers impact the immune system across the body. Furthemore, he’s developing and applying cutting-edge experimental and computational technologies to identify new drug targets. This has already revealed opportunities to repurpose existing automimmunity-related drugs for cancer instead, and is advancing his goal of developing immunotherapies that harness immune cells from across the body, not just from within the tumor, to eradicate cancers in all patients.
Projects and Grants
Understanding, restoring, and enhancing systemic immune function in cancer
University of California, San Francisco | All Cancers | 2022
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