One major risk factor for developing certain cancers is obesity, which can dysregulate the immune system. Fewer natural killer cells are found in the blood of obese patients, and those that are there are much less effective at killing tumor cells. Additionally, some drugs taken for obesity-related disease can also impact the immune system and might affect whether immunotherapy works in certain patients. Metformin, which is commonly used to treat diabetes, is one example. While some evidence shows that this metabolism-targeting drug can slow the growth of cancer cells, it also appears to have the same effect on immune cells, particularly natural killer cells. Therefore, to increase our understanding in the context of cancer, Dr. Lydia Lynch seeks to better characterize how obesity influences tumor development as well as responses to immunotherapy. Furthermore, she’ll investigate how metformin impacts natural killer cells as well as immunotherapy’s overall effectiveness, which could help guide improve strategies in the clinic.
Projects and Grants
The relationship between metformin, obesity, and cancer immunotherapy success
Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School | All Cancers | 2017
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