Dendritic cells (DCs) are important immune cells that help to orchestrate immune responses against threats in the body, including cancer. DCs do this by activating T cells and telling them what tumors “look like” so that the T cells can seek out and eliminate cancer cells. Due to their central role in immune responses against tumors, Dr. Fessenden seeks to develop a better understanding of DC functions within tumors in order to aid the development of novel immunotherapies.
Specifically, Dr. Fessenden aims to address a gap in our knowledge, by defining how the actomyosin cell “skeleton” enables DCs to carry out their highly specialized functions during the sensing and elimination of tumors. To do so, he’s using novel imaging approaches to assess the behavior of DCs and their interactions with T cells on timescales from seconds to days. Using mouse models of cancer that rely on immunotherapy for tumor elimination, Dr. Fessenden’s work could reveal new insights into DC biology and help determine if strategies that alter the homing, migration, and adhesion capabilities of DCs might be able to improve immune responses against tumors.
Projects and Grants
Imaging and Controlling Tumor-infiltrating Dendritic Cell Migration
Massachusetts Institute of Technology | All Cancers | 2019 | Stefani Spranger, Ph.D.
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