Center for Cancer Systems Pharmacology
The HMS Center for Cancer Systems Pharmacology (CCSP) is an NCI Cancer Systems Biology Center of Excellence that studies responsiveness and resistance to anti-cancer drugs. The Center focuses on targeted small molecule therapies and newly emerging immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), two cornerstones of precision cancer medicine. Using precision medicine approaches our team is attempting to answer these key questions:
How can we identify patients who will benefit from specific anti-cancer medicines and how can side-effects be minimized?
Why do only some tumors respond to drugs, and why do those that do respond frequently become drug resistant?
How should the choice between chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy be made to optimize treatment for individual patients? The Center is committed to training students and postdocs, promoting junior faculty and ensuring that data and software are reproducible, reliable and publicly accessible
Highly multiplexed imaging methods such as t-CyCIF are being used in the CCSP to immuno-profile tumors from patients before and after treatment. Nascent tumors are under continuous surveillance by the immune system and suppression of this surveillance is one of the key steps in development of malignancy. Drugs acting as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) restore anti-tumor immunity and result in very durable responses (potentially even cures) in some diseases. The key to understanding why ICIs work in some tumor types and not others is understanding a complex tumor milieu (the tumor microenvironment; TME) in which tumor, stromal and immune cells interact. The precise proportions and spatiotemporal arrangements of tumor, stromal and immune cells are being measured in tissue biopsies, and single-cell features extracted and associated with disease progression and therapeutic response using machine learning, deep learning and high-dimensional data analysis.
Funding: The Center for Cancer Systems Pharmacology at HMS is funded by NCI Cancer Systems Biology Center of Excellence grant U54-CA225088 (Peter Sorger, PI) *Systems Pharmacology of Therapeutic and Adverse Responses to Immune Checkpoint and Small