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A tumor’s ability to survive and proliferate depends a great deal on the cells and tissue that surround it, referred to as its microenvironment. Within the microenvironment, the activity of non-tumor cells—including cells that are part of the immune system—is co-opted by the tumor to provide nutrients and protect them from the body’s natural defenses. Because we cannot detect the multiple tumors that are likely eliminated by the immune system during the course of our lives, tumors that become clinically noticeable are invariably the result of failure of the immune system. Independent work from several laboratories has recently demonstrated that tolerance to tumor antigens in advanced malignancies is not a merely passive event but, rather, an active process whereby multiple immunosuppressive cell types confer immune privilege to tumors.
How this immunosuppressive, pro-angiogenic, pro-metastatic microenvironment is orchestrated and drives malignant progression--and how to re-program these cell types to unleash immune protection---are the main focal points in the lab.
Conejo-Garcia's lab shows that it might be possible to restore the immune system by targeting a patient’s own dendritic cells.Read more>
The microscope in the image belonged to William E. Horner, M.D., a collaborator with Caspar Wistar, M.D., in the early 1800s.
Dr. Horner, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, was a pioneer of the use of microscopes in anatomical and medical research. He authored Special Anatomy and Histology, a seminal text on the subject.