The Asimakopoulos lab at UW-Madison focuses on the study of the regulation of intratumoral immune microenvironment, the cross-talk between tumor matrix remodeling and immune cells infiltrating the tumor site and the development of novel tumor models to study targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Our passion is to understand antigen-presenting cells (dendritic cells) and other myeloid regulatory cells operating at the tumor site. These cells collectively determine the balance between immunogenic and tolerogenic inflammation and regulate “innate sensing” of tumors by the immune system and recognition of tumor antigens. This first step of the “cancer immunity cycle” is critical for the success of all immunotherapy modalities (whether through vaccination, checkpoint inhibition or cellular therapies using engineered effector cells, e.g., CAR-T cells).
Our main expertise and focus is on multiple myeloma, a tumor of plasma cells that constitute the “snipers” of the immune system (as they attack invaders through secretion of antibodies, the “bullets” of the immune system). However in recent years, our scope has expanded into several solid tumor models through strategic collaborations.
Active projects in the lab include:
1) Understanding tumor matrix cross-talk with dendritic cells and other intratumoral myeloid cells (tumor-associated macrophages, myeloid-derived suppressor cells).
2) Understanding the pathways that regulate dendritic cell function and dysfunction at the tumor site.
3) Novel animal models to study multiple myeloma targeted therapy and immunotherapy