Penn Surgery

Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory

Tumor Immunology

chart 1Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer in the United States today. Many patients present when their cancer is advanced and they cannot receive many therapies. Our goal is to cure patients with advanced disease by developing novel immunotherapies. These immunotherapies use one’s own immune system to “clean up” tumor cells in the body.

The major area of recent interest in the lab is augmentation of anti-tumor immune effects using several immune-modulators in combination with surgical techniques. The primary drive of the laboratory’s immunological approach lies in the augmentation of currently available surgical procedures with cancer vaccinations which will act to modulate and disrupt the tumor microenvironment and other immunosuppressive factors inherent in a cancer patient. In particular, we are targeting myeloid-derived suppressor cells through the use of anti-tumoral cytokines and adenoviral vectors.

More specifically, we are finding new methods to stimulate the immune system in the local environment to attack the tumor. We believe once the immune system learns to attack the tumor locally, it can then “seek-and-destroy” distant metastatic disease and also prevent recurrences.

Additionally, through the modeling of recurrent disease, we can develop better therapies to target and induce danger signaling pathways in order to recruit innate immunity and aid in eliminating lingering microscopic metastases.