Emmanuel Katsanis, MD, recognizes immunity against tumors depends on complex innate and adaptive immune responses that involve the sequential mobilization of messenger and killer immune cells. However, despite the arsenal harbored by the immune system to ensure tumor immunosurveillance, cancers can escape immune detection and elimination. Dr. Katsanis’ lab conducts a basic and translational research program aimed at advancing new immunotherapeutic strategies as a cure for cancer. They are specifically focusing on deciphering the phenomena of tumor-induced immunosuppression and are investigating approaches to override their negative impact on antitumoral immunity. A concomitant and complementary area of research centers on the optimization and development of cancer vaccines and on the identification of novel cellular actors of the immune system that may be manipulated to control malignancies. This two-step strategy converges toward the promotion of tightly orchestrated tumor-specific immune responses. The primary research areas in our laboratory are the following: 1) mechanisms of tumor-induced immunosuppression and 2) promotion of anti-tumor immunity.
The research is exploring additional therapeutic approaches to eliminate or inactivate tumor-induced Treg and is also pursuing the study of the mechanisms leading to the induction and regulation of their immunosuppressive function.
Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) contribute to tumor-induced immunosuppression. The number of these cells is increased in tumor-bearing hosts and they may specifically or non- specifically suppress immunity by mechanisms involving arginase-1, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. In mice MDSC express the CD11b and Gr-1 markers and may be involved in the generation of Treg. A project has been initiated and aimed at evaluating the role and modality of induction of these cells in cancer and at exploring the reciprocal interaction between tumor-induced MDSC and Treg.