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Joseph Barbi, Ph.D.

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Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Will Blocking a Nerve Protein Help Stop Lung Tumor Growth?
Lung Cancer Discovery Award
Funded by LUNG FORCE

A major contributing factor to the hard-to-treat nature of lung cancer lies in the ability of tumors to suppress the patient's immune defenses. Among the foremost contributors to this dampening are the so-called "Regulatory T cells" or Tregs, which accumulate in lung tumors and suppress the activity of other immune cells, preventing tumor eradication. A protein called neuritin is highly produced by tumor Tregs and is important for immune suppression. We will explore how neuritin allows Treg accumulation and function in tumors, and we will determine if blocking neuritin can unleash the immune system to halt lung tumor progression.

Update: We have made considerable progress in advancing our understanding of how neuritin expression by Tregs impacts their biology. Our findings suggest that neuritin blockade may antagonize a subset of Tregs most likely to infiltrate tumors. We are poised to confirm and expand on these findings in human lung cancer patient-derived cells. We will also test the ability of a unique anti-neuritin antibody to disrupt tumor progression and rescue anti-tumor immunity in tobacco carcinogen-induced lung cancer models.

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