Timeframe: 2016 – 2019
Goal: Study the interactions between the immune system and FLC in a mouse model
Principal Investigator: Kevin Barry, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar
Cancer immunotherapies harness the power of the immune system to kill tumors. Checkpoint blockade immunotherapies are an exciting class of cancer immunotherapies that remove the brakes from the immune system and allow effective killing of tumor cells. These therapies function by targeting molecules that inhibit tumor-directed responses by immune cells called T cells. T cells are important for protecting patients from tumors as these cells directly kill tumor cells and modulate the global immune response towards tumors. Immunotherapies targeting T cells have been remarkably effective in treating non-FLC cancer patients, leading to tumor regression and offering long-term protection, effectively providing a cure to cancer in some patients. However, very little is known about how the immune system interacts with FLC or if immunotherapy would be an effective treatment for FLC.
The study of the efficacy of immunotherapy in the treatment of FLC is hampered by the fact that the current patient-derived xenograft animal models of FLC utilize the transplantation of human tumor into immune compromised animals. The lack of an effective immune system allows the host mice to grow tumors, but also makes it impossible to study the interactions between the immune system and FLC in this model system. This study harnessed a preclinical mouse model of FLC developed by Dr. Julien Sage and Stanford University with a fully functional immune system to understand how the immune system interacts with FLC. These studies represent the first step in moving towards treating FLC patients with immunotherapy in the clinic.