Our Faculty : Primary Faculty

Brett Schrand, Ph.D.

**Current Research Interests*

Tumor immunotherapy has emerged as an efficacious treatment strategy for various malignancies as evidenced by several recently approved drugs. Despite this efficacy, response rates remain modest. Working closely with Dr. Gilboa, we are developing novel multi-pronged approaches to enhance tumor immunotherapy and reduce toxicity of immune-modulatory drugs. As such, we are utilizing the practicality of aptamers as a means for targeted immune modulation. Aptamers are short, chemically synthesized oligonucleotides that can provide equal or greater avidity compared to antibodies at a lower cost.

Our approaches utilize aptamers to deliver cargo into or near the appropriate cells in vivo. Specifically, we take advantage of the simplicity of aptamers to deliver siRNA to cancer cells to render them more immunogenic by increasing the neoantigen load. Furthermore, we have generated approaches to enhance the killing of tumor cells by coating them with antigens that can be easily recognized by a vaccine induced immune response. Targeting immune cells, we have developed strategies to limit costimulation to the tumor infiltrating T cells in order to reduce toxicity and enhance the anti-tumor immune response. Finally, we have developed proof-of-principle concepts showing T cell exclusion from certain tumor types and an approach to circumvent this T-cell exclusion in order to enhance T cell infiltration and anti-tumor immunity in aggressive murine tumor models.

Taken together, the approaches our lab focus on are unique, clinically relevant, and provide new paradigms for the treatment of cancer going forward. Future work will focus on development of human reagents for these approaches to test in clinical settings.

Pubmed link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Brett+Schrand