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Our lab focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the recruitment and activation of immunosuppressive myeloid cells in solid tumors and the consequent regulation those cells exert on the evolving tumor microenvironment. The long-term goal of our research work is to develop novel targeted therapies for the treatment of solid tumors. Currently, we are utilizing human patient samples and genetic mouse models of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, lung carcinoma and neuroblastoma to understand the functional role of myeloid cells in shaping the tumor microenvironment.
We have discovered novel innovative approaches to convert pro-tumor macrophages into anti-tumor macrophages and has also discovered novel targeted agents that have been translated into early phase clinical trials for the treatment of cancer patients. We have recently identified a novel macrophage autonomous pathway involving Rac2 and Syk kinase downstream of the provisional integrins, a4b1 and avb3 that controls immunosuppressive macrophage differentiation in tumor growth and metastasis. Our recent work has demonstrated Syk as a novel immuno-oncology target which plays a crucial role in the control of macrophage-mediated immune suppression and the inhibition of anti-tumor immunity in the lung carcinoma model.