Research projects in our laboratory are aimed at studying the biology of cell populations capable of inducing or suppressing graft vs host disease as well as cells capable of promoting a graft vs tumor effect. In particular we are studying:
- The clinical utility of expanded cytotoxic cells for immunotherapy. We have developed animal models utilizing mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) which will accept human tumor cells or murine model systems of syngeneic and allogeneic transplantation. In some instances the tumor cells are transfected with the bioluminescent marker luciferase so that the tumor cell growth can be quantitatively tracked in living animals. Using this model system we are studying the clinical efficacy of the expanded cytotoxic cells.
- The interaction between the cytotoxic effector cells and a variety of tumor cell targets is under study. The role of granzyme/perforin and fas mediated pathways as well as the cell surface molecule NKG2D in cytotoxicity is under study.
- The biological impact of phenotypically defined populations of regulatory T cells on graft vs host disease and graft vs tumor reactions.
- Bioluminescent techniques to study these complex biological processes by either labelling the tumor or effector cell populations with the light emitting luciferase gene such that small numbers of cells can be tracked non-invasively, sensively and quantitatively.