Over the last few years, immune based therapy has improved the survival of melanoma patients. In these patients, the cancer has devised methods to evade the immune system, including increasing the expression of molecules on the immune cells that inhibit the immune response. New antibody drugs can inhibit these "checkpoint proteins" that function to turn off excessive immune responses. For melanoma treatment, there are several FDA registered therapeutics including those against PD-1 (pembrolizumab and nivolumab), PD-L1 (atezolizumab), CTLA-4 (ipilimumab) and LAG3 (relatimab).
We are investigating how nitric oxide (NO) dependent processes mediate resistance to these therapeutic agents. In doing so, we aim to develop new therapeutic modalities and biomarkers to predict which patients will benefit from the current melanoma therapies. There are four research fields that we combine in our lab to accomplish this. They include: A) Immunology, B) Clinical Research, C) Biochemistry and Biophysics, and D) Informatics