Koji Tamada MD, PhD

University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD Associate Professor, Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Research Focus: Immunotherapy

Cancer Type: Lymphatic System

Award: Young Investigator

2005-2008 Research Grant:

One of the most important subjects of a cancer vaccine is how to maximize its potency. Recent studies have suggested that LIGHT, a molecule belonging to the tumor necrosis factor superfamily, induces potent anti-tumor immunity by a unique mechanism that facilitates both migration and activation of lymphocytes at the site of the tumor. In this study, we will delineate the molecular-based mechanism of this phenomenon to develop a more efficient vaccine, and lay the foundation of translational studies on LIGHT-based cancer gene therapy.

Current Research:

Dr. Tamada is still focused on improving cancer vaccine potency, but he has expanded this focus to a general goal to improve immunotherapy treatments overall. Dr. Tamada is most interested in the immune system’s capacity to recognize self and non-self-derived abnormalities (i.e. viruses, cancer cells, organ donations) and eradicate them. Much of these processes are dependent on identifying certain antigens present on the abnormalities, and Dr. Tamada hopes to identify which antigens presented on cancer cells can initiate such a reaction without causing the immune system to attack other, healthy cells. Dr. Tamada feels as though co-signal systems within cancer cells may be the key to controlling these responses and targeting cancer cells. He and his lab are working on identifying specifically what these co-signal molecules are so that they can be utilized and manipulated to create effective cancer immunotherapy treatments.

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