The Department of Immunotherapeutics was established on June 1, 2004 as one of the first of 22 departments of the 22nd Century Medical and Research Center in the University of Tokyo Hospital. This Center is a research complex of departments endowed by the Business-Academia partnership. The Department of Immunotherapeutics was contributed by Medinet Co. Ltd from June 2004 to May 2019. From June 2019, TAKARA BIO INC. supports our activities. Our focus remains the study of cancer immunology and promotion of translational research for the development of improved cancer immunotherapy.
Since immune checkpoint blockade therapies were approved for the treatment of many cancer types, remarkable clinical responses have been achieved in a certain proportion of patients. Nonetheless, many patients are unresponsive, and there remain several tumor types that are refractory to immunotherapy. Multiple immunosuppressive mechanisms operate in the tumor microenvironment (TME), and any anti-tumor immune cells that might be present are often impaired in the TME.
Thus, effective immunotherapy requires a combination of potent stimulation of anti-tumor immune responses and, additionally, manipulation of the immunosuppressive environment to prevent tumor escape. Therefore, elucidating the mechanisms of responsiveness or refractoriness and the molecular determinants thereof is required to improve cancer immunotherapy.
The objective of our department is to demonstrate the feasibility of an immunological data-guided personalized adaptive approach to immunotherapy, whereby immunomodulatory strategies are tailored to the patient’s specific TME.