Macrophages are immune cells that normally maintain healthy tissues, but can be tricked by cancer cells into helping tumors grow, spread (metastasize), and evade elimination by anti-cancer T cells. To that end, Dr. Kaech is investigating how targeting these tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) might enhance immunotherapy’s effectiveness and improve patient survival. She’s already discovered that a drug approved for melanoma depends upon signaling through the CD40 pathway, and studied how combinations of drugs that target macrophages might work in conjunction with one another or with existing checkpoint inhibitors. Now, Dr. Kaech is characterizing how these TAMs help to suppress tumor growth in response to those therapies to reveal the mechanisms behind them and identify improved immunotherapy approaches for patients in the clinic.
Funding by CRI for my lab and postdoctoral fellows has allowed us to voyage into studying forms of immunotherapies that operate independently of T cells with the hope of identifying therapies for patients with non-inflammed tumors.
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