Obesity is increasingly becoming a major factor in public health and puts people at greater risk when it comes to many diseases, including cancer. For example, more than 60% of patients with pancreatic cancer are obese, and these patients are associated with worse outcomes. Pancreatic cancer is hard to treat with immunotherapy; it’s usually associated with the formation of dense fibers around the tumor as well as other components that can suppress the activity of killer T cells—both of which can be worse in the context of obesity.
A master regulatory pathway called angiotensin signaling pathway appears to be involved in reducing these dense fibers in pancreatic cancer and in enhancing immune responses against tumors. Moving forward, Dr. Talele aims to target this master regulator in the pancreatic tumor microenvironment in order to mechanistically explore its role in pancreatic cancer and killer T cell activity against these tumors. Ultimately, his work could help improve immunotherapy strategies against this hard-to-treat cancer.
Projects and Grants
Re-engineering the obese tumor immune microenvironment to improve immunotherapy efficacy in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
Massachusetts General Hospital | Pancreatic Cancer | 2019 | Rakesh Jain, Ph.D.
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