Cancer occurs when cells divide uncontrollably. In order to proliferate, cells need considerable energy and resources to build all the components necessary for making new cells. To meet this increased demand for energy and resources, cancer cells display significant metabolic reprogramming tailored to their high and rapid energy demand. T cells, soldiers of the immune system that fight off infection and eliminate cancer cells, rely on similar metabolic reprogramming to mount a successful defense. However, how metabolic reorganization occurs in cancer cells or lymphocytes is poorly understood.
The main aim of my research program is to use cutting-edge experimental techniques such as genomics and metabolomics to generate a comprehensive map of the overall regulatory networks that control tumour physiology and immune cell function. It is now appreciated that the immune system also plays an important role in controlling cancer progression. My research program examines the intersection between the immune system and tumour cells to better understand how we can train our immune system to fight cancer.
The experiments proposed will reveal how metabolites that are differentially regulated in cancer and immune responses can be used as biomarkers for cancer detection. Furthermore, understanding the interaction between cancer cells and immune cells in the tumour microenvironment can help us design rational therapies to enhance anti-tumour immune responses. Our long term vision is to use the discoveries of my research program to develop new treatment options for cancer patients.