The aims of the laboratory are to extend our basic studies for advancing immunotherapy and translational research (TR), from basic studies back and forth to the bedside in the field of cancer. In the basic science, we discovered an existence of memory like innate lymphocytes. Although NKT cells belong to the innate immune system, we recently discovered a new type of NKT cell, the memory like KLRG1+NKT cell, which can survive for a long period after activation.
With regard to TR studies, we have been conducting three NKT cell-related TR projects using the synthetic NKT ligand. To accomplish this, we are investigating novel drug delivery systems that have the potential to enhance antitumor immunity and have developed artificial adjuvant vector cells composed of NKT ligand and tumor associated antigen, linking innate and adaptive immunity. Under the RIKEN TR program and Tokyo University TR program, we have been making efforts for preclinical studies that will ultimately lead to clinical trials. In addition, we have been working in two collaborative studies, i.e, establishment of iPS-NKT cell study and a joint clinical phase I / IIa study of NKT cell therapy with the National Hospital Organization for early stage of lung cancer patients.
1. Exploration of mechanisms of immune response against cancer (Basic Science)
Expanding “immune system’s memory”
2. Translational research of new types of cancer immunotherapy (TR studies)
(1) Development of “Artificial adjuvant vector cells (aAVCs)” as cellular drug
(2) Establishment of “iPS-derived NKT cells”
3. Evaluation of human immunology (Human clinical trials)
A joint clinical “Phase I/II clinical trial of NKT cell therapy”