The Immunology Program members are probing the mechanisms of immune activation and evasion in tumor bearers, with the purpose of making an impact in the field by introducing new strategies that will benefit cancer patients.
Basic scientists and clinical investigators collectively study the role of the immune system in cancer in an atmosphere of communication and collaboration among members. The members collaborate with other Moffitt programs and departments to achieve an integrated approach to cancer immunotherapy. This work is built on the concept that the receptors and signal pathways of innate and adaptive immune cells in the normal setting must first be understood in order to define what is abnormal in the tumor environment. Only with such scientific discoveries can novel effective anti-tumor immunotherapy be developed.
The Immunology Program aims to:
- study mechanisms by which innate immunity develops and controls cancer
- discover molecular and cellular pathways by which adaptive immunity is promoted or suppressed in tumor bearers
- implement basic science findings for immunotherapy of solid and hematological malignancies
A primary goal of the Immunology Program is to translate basic research scientific discoveries that have advanced to the point of being applicable in the clinic. The close collaboration of the Immunology Program’s basic and clinical researchers creates a unique opportunity to rapidly translate novel immunotherapeutic strategies into clinical trials and to allow for clinical observations from these trials to be returned to the laboratory for mechanistic testing, in order to further refine and improve immunotherapeutic strategies. Program members have worked to translate numerous scientific findings into clinical trials.
The Program’s clinical immunotherapy research is organized around these three themes:
- developing therapeutic tumor vaccines
- developing strategies designed to thwart the immunosuppressive mechanisms used by tumors to evade a T-cell-mediated rejection
- developing strategies to prevent graft-versus-host disease after hematopoietic cell transplantation
New approaches are being developed to improve clinical responses in cancer patients, with clinical trials covering numerous types of vaccines and immunotherapeutic regimens as exciting discoveries are entering the clinic.
Julie Y. Djeu, PhD
Scott J. Antonia, MD, PhD