Cancer has the ability to avoid attack from the human immune system by suppressing our immune system's function. Recent studies showed that a special cell population called "myeloid derived suppressor cells" (MDSCs) is a major player in cancer's ability to suppress the immune system. It has been seen that when patients have a higher density of MDSC in their tumors, it is more likely that they will not survive. Current development of therapies to reduce MDSC is hampered by the lack of a way to precisely recognize and target MDSCs with only one reagent. The objective of this proposal is to identify new and unique markers for MDSCs and to develop new strategies to inhibit MDSCs in tumors to help treat blood cancers more effectively. My career goal is to lead my research group to develop new agents that could be translated from the research lab to the clinic to treat blood cancer patients. My career development plan is thus designed to achieve this goal by improving my professional knowledge and academic skills in advanced training in cancer immunology, translational research, mentorship, grant application, manuscript preparation, and biomedical statistics. This award would not only provide me with strong financial support for my research, but will also greatly facilitate my career advancement and fulfill my potential as an outstanding, successful investigator in translational research against blood cancers. We will use our newly developed technology to overcome current limitations in the field by identifying new targets for human MDSCs. This will allow us to develop diagnostic and therapeutic agents specific for MDSCs that we can then take into first-in-human clinical trials in patients with blood cancers. Specifically, our studies will help to first, advance scientific knowledge about MDSCs in general and in blood cancers in particular; second, identify novel strategies to target MDSCs that could then be applicable to other cancers; and third, combine novel agents targeting MDSCs with existing therapies including chemotherapy, other immunotherapies, and targeted therapies, potentially improving their efficacy without increasing toxicity. We expect to fully develop such a prototype therapeutic agent by the end of the award period (3 years). Based on the data collected, we will prepare and submit a new drug clinical trial application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch a human study. Recent studies show that during the Vietnam War, for military purposes, the U.S. Army used millions of gallons of herbicides that have been associated with blood cancers. Blood cancer is an ideal disease for treatment with immunotherapy because it has the ability to resist chemotherapy drugs, which are the standard treatment for cancer. However, the benefits of immunotherapy are undermined by cancer's ability to suppress the human immune system. If a treatment can change the way cancer suppresses the human immune system in cancer patients, then it can be combined with immunotherapies to improve the effectiveness of the immunotherapies without side effects to the patient. Another disease that is viable candidate for cancer immunotherapy is melanoma because of well-defined targets for this cancer. A current epidemic study showed an increased risk of having melanoma in active duty military members who serve in sun-intense locales like Iraq and Afghanistan. This proposal will develop a potential therapeutic agent to deplete MDSCs in cancer patients, which will benefit both Veterans and active duty military members who face the potential for a risk of blood cancers and melanoma.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/15 → 8/31/18|
- U.S. Army: $576,001.00