Profile of the Month

Liu Haiyan

BA, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Email:

Immune regulation in the tumor microenvironment

Our laboratory is interested in the immune regulation in the tumor microenvironment and novel therapeutic strategies to improve tumor immunotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.Tumors are not just a mass of proliferating genetically abnormal cells, but are now well defined as a heterogeneous and structurally complex microenvironment. The interactions between the tumor cells and the immune cells, as well as immune mediators play important roles in the development and metastasis of the tumor. Therefore, understanding the immune suppressive mechanism in the tumor microenvironment provides targets for tumor immunotherapy. Tumor-promoting inflammation has long been noticed by the progression of chronic inflammation to cancer. However, many questions arise as to which subsets of immune cells directly or indirectly promote malignancy, which of these can be reprogrammed on their functional plasticity to instead combat cancer, and to what degree these properties are generic or tissue-specific. Using hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) model, our laboratory identified several inflammatory cytokines that exert suppressive effects on the anti-tumor immune response. We are interested in further elucidating their regulatory roles in modulating immune cell functions as well as confirming their therapeutic potentials.  Immunotherapy has become a promising strategy for cancer therapy. Our laboratory has also been interested in combining specific cancer vaccine, oncolytic virus, appropriate cytokine treatment and inhibitory checkpoint blockade to further boost the efficacy of tumor immunotherapy.