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Johns Hopkins is a member of the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Cervical Cancer. With a $11.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, we are conducting lab, translational and clinical studies to prevent and treat cervical cancers. Previous studies have identified connections between immune system genes and HPV16. Current projects include the development of next-generation HPV vaccines to control HPV-associated precursor lesions and invasive cancer. Our dedicated researchers are working to extend the techniques used in HPV vaccine development to the creation of vaccines targeting other cancers with defined tumor antigens.
We are interested in how immune responses occur in the cervix. The focus of our translational research is on developing immune therapies for disease caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection causes more cancers than any other virus in the world. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by HPV, and although we have known how to screen for it for over half a century, it remains the second most common cause of cancer death in women. Although the preventive vaccines are a public health milestone, they prevent HPV infections, but are not designed to make immune responses to treat HPV. We are testing different strategies to make immune responses that could treat HPV disease. Our dedicated researchers are working to extend the techniques used in HPV vaccine development to the creation of vaccines targeting other cancers with defined tumor antigens.
Drew Pardoll Lab
The Pardoll Lab focuses on the regulation of antigen-specific T cell responses and studies approaches to modify these responses for immunotherapy. Pardoll has a particular interest in cancer immunology and his lab’s studies on basic immunologic mechanisms have led to the development and design of a number of cancer vaccines and discovery of key checkpoint ligands and receptors, such as PD-L2, LAG-3 and neuritin, many of which are being targeted clinically.
Our primary pursuits are discovering and elucidating new molecules that regulate immune responses, investigating the biology of regulatory T cells, and better understanding the specific biochemical signatures that allow a patient’s T cells to selectively target cancer cells.
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