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Current projects include:
The evaluation of mechanisms of immune tolerance to cancer in mouse models of breast and pancreatic cancer. We have characterized the HER-2/neu transgenic mouse model of spontaneous mammary tumors.
This model demonstrates immune tolerance to the HER-2/neu gene product. This model is being used to better understand the mechanisms of tolerance to tumor. In addition, this model is being used to develop vaccine strategies that can overcome this tolerance and induce immunity potent enough to prevent and treat naturally developing tumors. More recently, we are using a genetic model of pancreatic cancer developed to understand the early inflammatory changes that promote cancer development.
The identification of human tumor antigens recognized by T cells. We are using a novel functional genetic approach developed in our laboratory. Human tumor specific T cells from vaccinated patients are used to identify immune relevant antigens that are chosen... based on an initial genomic screen of overexpressed gene products. Several candidate targets have been identified and the prevelence of vaccine induced immunity has been assessed .
This rapid screen to identify relevant antigenic targets will allow us to begin to dissect the mechanisms of tumor immunity induction and downregulation at the molecular level in cancer patients. More recently, we are using proteomics to identify proteins involved in pancreatic cancer development. We recently identified Annexin A2 as a molecule involved in metastases.
The analysis of antitumor immune responses in patients enrolled on vaccine studies. The focus is on breast and pancreatic cancers. We are atttempting to identify in vitro correlates of in vivo antitumor immunity induced by vaccine strategies developed in the laboratory and currently under study in the clinics. view more
While there has been an explosion of knowledge about human carcinogenesis over the last 2 decades, unfortunately, this has not translated into the development of effective therapies for either preventing or treating the common human cancers. The goal of the Isaacs’ lab is to change this situation by translating theory into therapy for solid malignancies, particularly Prostate cancer. Presently, a series of drugs discovered in the Isaacs’ lab are undergoing clinical trials in patients with metastatic cancer.
The ongoing drug discovery in the lab continues to focus upon developing agents to eliminate the cancer initiating stem cells within metastatic sites of cancer. To do this, a variety of bacterial and natural product toxins are being chemically modified to produce “prodrugs” whose cytotoxicity is selectively activated by proteases produced in high levels only by cancer cells or tumor associated blood vessel cells. In this way, these prodrugs can be given systemically to metastati...c patients without un-acceptable toxicity to the host while being selectively activated to potent killing molecules within metastatic sites of cancer.
Such a “Trojan Horse” approach is also being developed using allogeneic bone marrow derived Mesenchymal Stem cells which are genetically engineered to secrete “prodrugs” so that when they are infused into the patient, they selectively “home” to sites of cancers where the appropriate enzymatic activity is present to liberate the killing toxin sterilizing the cancer “neighborhood”. view more