The primary focus of our laboratory is the study of the tumor host interaction with the ultimate goal being the design of new and effective therapy for prostate 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 understanding the role of tumor-derived bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and TGF-beta on the local immune response, especially macrophages. Our findings suggest that BMPs and TGF-beta are major regulators of tumor-associated macrophages. Based on our findings, we are currently investigating various small molecule inhibitors as well as adoptive cell therapies to block the effect of tumor-derived BMPs and TGF-beta on tumor-associated macrophages in prostate cancer.