The primary focus of our laboratory is the study of the tumor host interaction with the ultimate gial being the design of effective immunotherapy regimens for cancer. The interaction between the host immune system and tumor is a multifaceted one with the generation of productive immunity requiring the cooperation of immune cells from multiple lineages. Further complicating the system. tumor cells themselves can produce immune suppressive factors.
A focus of current studies in our laboratory lies in the development of genetic approaches towards immunotherapy. Recombinant vaccinia virus vectors are being explored as a means of transfecting tumor cells in-vivo with the ultimate goal of enhancing immunity. In this approach, viruses are engineered to contain the genes for immunologic helper factors or conversely neutralizing molecules such that when injected into tumors. they infect the tumor cells and cause the infected tumor to secrete the desired molecules.
Most recently, studies in out laboratory have included a new initiative towards the design of genetic vaccine strategies for breast cancer. Given an enhanced understanding of how immune responses are not only initiated but focused towards cell mediated or humoral (antibody producing) arms, we are in the process of "designing" genetic vaccines which will enhance the specific arms of an immune response. This latter focus will be greatly enhanced by the outstanding clinical and basic science resources focused on breast cancer at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.