Over half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy, and it contributes to over 40% of cancer cures. As the efficacy of immunotherapy has been established in multiple cancer types, there has been tremendous excitement about combining radiation with immunotherapy. Hundreds of clinical trials are ongoing to test whether radiation, which damages cancer cells, can attract and activate specialized immune cells at the site of the cancer.
Our lab uses genetically engineered mouse models of soft tissue sarcoma to understand the interplay between the tumor, the immune system, and radiation therapy. Specifically, we are investigating the immunological features that differentiate tumor response and resistance to radiation and immunotherapy. By genetically and pharmacologically manipulating distinct immune cell populations, we can dissect the role of each immune cell type in the overall radiation response. We hope that this work will identify novel targets that can be targeted to improve patient responses to radiation therapy.
For more information from the Kirsch Lab go to www.kirschlab.org