Hamid Bassiri Laboratory
Led by Hamid Bassiri, MD, PhD, researchers in the Bassiri Laboratory are studying the underlying mechanisms by which specialized immune effector cells communicate with one another in tumor microenvironments. The long-term goal of the work is to identify novel drug targets and develop treatment strategies to potentiate the antitumor activity of immune effector cells in tumor microenvironments.
Research in the Bassiri Laboratory found that invariant natural killer (iNKT) T cells can directly kill certain tumors and also stimulate the tumoricidal activity of cytotoxic lymphocytes such as NK cells in pediatric tumor microenvironments. This indicates that enhancing iNKT cell activity in tumor microenvironments may be an effective target immunotherapy for certain pediatric cancers.
Other studies in the Bassiri Laboratory revealed that polyamine synthesis inhibitors, especially difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), enhance immune antitumor activity in preclinical models against aggressive and often lethal forms of neuroblastoma. These findings led to the inclusion of DFMO in a Phase I clinical study as a possible treatment for aggressive and recurrent pediatric neuroblastoma.
Future studies in the Bassiri Laboratory will focus on synergistic strategies to enhance iNKT and NK cell tumoricidal activity in pediatric tumor microenvironments that have been altered to be more immune permissive, as a result of exposure to polyamine synthesis inhibitors.