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Mid-Career Fellowship - 2023

Targeting cancer associated fibroblasts to overcome immune cell exclusion in head and neck cancer
Dr. Janin Chandra

Project Description

Head and neck cancers (HNC) present as different diseases, either externally on the skin or internally in the mouth and throat. Treatment consists of surgery, chemo-radiation and/or immunotherapy. Surgery and chemo-radiation are associated with long-term morbidity, while immunotherapy benefits only ~30% of patients and is very expensive. To improve patient outcomes, Dr. Janin Chandra will investigate mechanisms of therapy resistance – to identity targets and develop new treatments for patients not responding to therapy. Current immunotherapies aim to reinvigorate pre-existing immune responses. In patients where such pre-existing immune responses don’t exist, the tumour is practically invisible to the patients’ defence system. Resistance to immunotherapy can be caused either by an absence of such pre-existing immune responses, or by the tumour constructing a shield that blocks immune cell entry into the tumour nest. This shield is typically built by a cell type called fibroblasts. Dr. Janin Chandra innovative research program aims to discover why some HNC patients don’t have pre-existing responses to the tumour, how tumour invisibility can be overcome, and how the tumour shield that blocks immune cell entry can be broken.

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