Jun Ren, Ph.D., Postdoctoral FellowMassachusetts General Hospital

The generous support from CRI provides me an extraordinary opportunity to develop novel strategies to overcome resistance to current therapies, and most importantly, bring hope to cancer patients.
Area of Research: Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer. Unfortunately, it’s also resistant to most current treatments, including checkpoint immunotherapy, which has proven effective in several other types of cancers. Therefore, Dr. Jun Ren aims to develop a deeper understanding of the biology of GBM—and why it doesn’t respond to current immunotherapies—in order to design more effective strategies for patients.

Already, he’s identified two major mechanisms that drive GBM resistance to immunotherapy: abnormal tumor blood vessels, which can block cancer-targeting T cells from infiltrating the tumor, and regulatory T cells, which can suppress the activity of cancer-killing T cells. To address this, Ren is combining checkpoint immunotherapy with strategies aimed at normalizing tumor blood vessels and converting regulatory T cells into a more anti-tumor form. If successful in preclinical models of GBM, this approach could directly inform the design of clinical trials testing these novel combinations to achieve durable responses in human patients, both those with glioblastoma and potentially other hard-to-treat cancers.

Projects and Grants

Reprogramming the Tumor Microenvironment to Improve Immunotherapy of Glioblastoma

Massachusetts General Hospital | Brain Cancer | 2020 | Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D.

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