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Karmanos Cancer Institute Immunology Researcher Obtains Nearly $1 Million National Institutes of Health Grant
Date:10/20/2009

research will provide him and his colleagues significant new insight to overcome the limitations of current immunotherapy strategies.

"We want to develop inhibitors for regulator T cells to use along with tumor vaccines, and our goal is to block the development of tumor-promoting regulator T cells in the tumor microenvironment," he said. "People have tried to deplete regulator T cells from the body using antibodies, but such an approach is associated with the risk of triggering autoimmunity in patients."

The nearly $1 million NIH grant will allow Dr. Poojary and his staff to invest the grant monies in what they need to conduct work more quickly and efficiently. As part of the grant, Dr. Poojary will hire four people to assist him. Without the grant, he says this research would have been very difficult.

"If we can understand the pathway of T cells, we will be very close to determining the inhibitors for what converts good cells into tumor-promoting bad cells," he said. "This is the hard step, but I am very confident that I'll achieve my goals with the project."

Dr. Poojary says it will be significant when doctors can control the conversion of normal T cells into abnormal cells that allow tumors to grow. "With this knowledge, we would be very close to having the immunological tools to more effectively treat aggressive cancers, such as locally-advanced and metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer and brain cancer," according to Dr. Poojary. He said he is fascinated by the intricacies of the immune system and how systems differ from patient to patient.

"I'm interested in knowing how the immune system works," he said. "Immunotherapy is the future for cancer treatment and it can be developed for any disease. Immunotherapy is much safer, but we have to improve the efficiency of tumor vaccines so that you get more specific and longer-lasting effects."

Dr. Poojary has been studying immunology since 1998 whe
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SOURCE Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
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