Metabolism is a fundamental property of living cells, which not only satisfies the bioenergetic and biosynthetic requirement, but also contributes to the signaling cascades that define cell fate. Metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells (e.g., Warburg effect) has been reported nearly 100 years ago and deregulated metabolism is considered a hallmark of cancer. Currently, how aberrant tumor metabolism impacts immune functions remains a mystery. A new area of inquiry for the lab is to elucidate the molecular underpinnings between the immune and cancer cells leading to tumor immune evasion. We postulate that dysregulated tumor metabolism is strategically exploited by the cancer cells to alter the tumor microenvironment that not only favors tumor growth but also suppresses immune surveillance and cytotoxic activity. We aim to investigate existing and identify new metabolic checkpoints, a collection of metabolites, proteins, or epigenetic changes that impede the immune surveillance and cytotoxic activity. We are investing in and building up our capabilities in tumor metabolism, mass spec proteomics, and bioinformatics for multi-omics data integration. We anticipate new discovery and insights from these studies will synergize with our translational efforts (NCI U54 Nano-Immune-Engineering Center) to accelerate the care for cancer patients.
- Huang T, Feng Q, Wang Z, Li W, Sun Z, Wilhelm J, Huang G, Vo T, Sumer BD, Gao J. Tumor-Targeted Inhibition of Monocarboxylate Transporter 1 Improves T-Cell Immunotherapy of Solid Tumors. Adv. Healthcare Mater., 2020, 2000549. PDF