Tumor initiation, growth, and metastatic dissemination are dynamic processes that are influenced by local and systemic factors. The immune system has a profound influence on each of these phases of malignant progression. As tumors evolve, there are also changes occurring within the commensal microbiome that also impact tumor progression and constrain anti-tumor immune responses.
The goal of the Rutkowski lab is to gain a deeper understanding of how the microbiome and immune microenvironment coordinate malignant progression and metastatic disease. We are utilizing transgenic mouse models and in vitro and in vivo crispr/cas9 gene editing to address these questions. We will utilize our findings to identify mechanisms of resistance to checkpoint inhibitor blockade in addition to developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment of metastatic disease.