Taha Merghoub, PhD
New York, New York
Deputy Director, Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center
Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor of Oncology Research
Professor of Pharmacology
Improving response to immunotherapy in breast cancer patients.
Immunotherapy is a treatment strategy that utilizes the body’s immune defenses to fight off disease. A class of immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors have been effective in patients with melanoma, lung, and other cancers, but has not been very effective for most breast cancers. The BCRF-supported research of Drs. Merghoub and Wolchok focuses on both developing new immune-based strategies and improving response to existing immunotherapies in breast cancer.
In tumors, both cancer cells and immune cells compete for glucose. Drs. Merghoub and Wolchok discovered that by reducing cancer cell glucose consumption they can increase the ability of anti-tumor immune cells to respond to immunotherapy. The team then demonstrated that the same result can be accomplished by using pharmacological compounds that affect tumor metabolism, opening the possibility for clinical application. Drs. Merghoub and Wolchok also found that tumor destruction with local radiotherapy can strengthen anti-tumor immunity when combined immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), which allows immune cells to kill cancer cells.
Drs. Merghoub and Wolchok will continue to investigate radiation therapy in combination with ICB. They will also explore combinations that target cells that are suppressive to immune function. In addition, the team will use imaging to understand when immune suppression takes place in order to time the treatment appropriately. Finally, they will test agents that modulate glucose consumption by tumors in order to improve the function of immune cells.
Taha Merghoub, PhD is the deputy director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. He received his BA degree from University of Algiers, Algeria, and MS and PhD degrees with highest distinction from University of Paris, France. His thesis work focused on the study of genetic polymorphism in fetal hemoglobin genes in patients with sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. His findings provided insight to the correlation of genotypes and phenotypes in sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. After graduation, he pursued his postdoctoral research with Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He characterized the transcriptional properties of the Pokemon gene and its role during development. He also played an active role in the generation of laboratory models for acute promyelocytic leukemia and furthered his knowledge and experience in genetics.
When you give to BCRF, you're funding critical hours in the lab. More time for research means longer, healthier lives for the ones we love.