Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death globally. Studies indicate that cells which give rise to colorectal cancers resemble tuft cells, a specialized cell type which initiate the immune response against parasites in the gut. These tuft cells activate ILC2 immune cells, which in turn cause tuft cells to expand, thus creating a positive feedback loop. Therefore, given that these developing CRC cells strongly resemble tuft cells and that tuft cell expansion is driven by activated ILC2, Dr. Cortez seeks to define a mechanistic link whereby type 2 immune responses in the gut can promote CRC development.
Using novel genetic tools to thoroughly examine this hypothesis, Dr. Cortez anticipates that these studies will reveal a previously unknown pathway through which the intestinal immune response can directly promote precancerous activity and accelerate progression towards CRC. This approach could also reveal novel biological targets for therapeutic intervention and pave the way for the development of therapies to treat and possibly even prevent CRC.
Projects and Grants
Immune modulation of intestinal adenoma formation and growth
University of California, San Francisco | Colorectal Cancer | 2019 | Richard M. Locksley, M.D.
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