Project: Investigating the impact of antigen biology on the antitumoral CD4+ T cell response in melanoma.
Our lab has recently developed an orthotopic mouse model that closely recapitulates melanoma in humans. In this model we have demonstrated that CD4+ T cells can mediate remarkable control of tumors. However, tumors develop strategies to evade detection by the immune system which is a major problem for current immunotherapies. Using newly-generated melanoma cell lines, engineered to express CD4+ T cell epitopes under different gene promotors, this project seeks to investigate how variation in antigen biology impacts the antitumoral CD4+ T cell response. A better understanding of T cell responses to different cancer antigens will serve to better understand resistance to current T cell-based immunotherapy and could be used to improve treatments for patients. The Honors student who embarks upon this project will have the opportunity to learn techniques including tissue culture, flow cytometry, microscopy and mice work.
Thomas’ group studies basic and translational aspects of immune responses in peripheral tissues. Their overall goal is to develop future vaccines and immunomodulatory therapies that target peripheral T cells for improved clinical outcomes in infection, inflammation and cancer.