Our research projects focus on breast cancer and pancreatic cancer, both of which exhibit significant challenges – from clinical and immunological perspectives. Specifically, we determine the transport properties of Nano-dendritic cell (DC) vaccines (developed by our investigators) and immune cells, and how they can be modulated to affect immunogenicity and therapeutic efficacy, with primary focus on breast cancer (Project 1). We also use various strategies to determine the biophysical transport barrier(s) within the pancreatic cancer tumor microenvironment that affect immune suppression, and thus, the efficacy of immunotherapies (Project 2). Both projects focus on transport phenomena of cells, drugs, and other agents across several transport-limiting barriers, including the lymphatic system, tumor vasculature, and stroma, and the projects are supported by the Transport Oncophysics Core (TOC). The overall objectives for the CITO are:
- to determine novel, transport-based therapeutic targets and criteria, forming the basis for new immunotherapeutic agents, diagnostic protocols, and patient categorizations, in breast and pancreatic tumors;
- to establish a predictive computational transport oncophysics framework for immunotherapeutics in cancer (the Transport and Biodistribution Theory, TBT);
- to determine the extent of therapeutic resistance caused by transport limitations, and their evolution during cancer progression; and
- to enable a transport-based phenotyping of cancers, underlying the optimization and personalization of therapeutic strategies.