The Cancer Immunotherapy lab focuses on a different way of conceiving immunotherapy, with a major goal of approaching this problem with novel concepts. The well-established dependency of cancer cells on the tumour microenvironment suggests that the microenvironment might have a role in tumour development and progression. We propose to block the pathogenic pro-tumoral activity driven by infiltrating immune cells within the tumor microenvironment, instead of re-activating the beneficial anti-tumor immune response as has been pioneered by immune-checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T cells therapies. While exciting clinical results have been achieved with these approaches, to date they have not been effective in a broad range of solid cancers especially for hormone-dependent cancers.
The major current interest of the lab is understanding the pathogenic crosstalk between tumour cells, the tissue-specific bacteria and the tumour-infiltrating immune cells in breast cancer initiation, progression, and treatment-resistance to develop novel effective therapies for the treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancer patients and prevention in individuals with germline BRCA mutations. With these goals, the group is synergizing its cancer immunology expertise with IOSI (Istituto Oncologico della Svizzera Italiana), which has a long tradition of clinical oncology in breast cancer, with the final aim to apply these discoveries to the clinic and develop novel therapeutic options and illuminate our understanding of the spectrum of interactions in the tumor microenvironment.