Damon Runyon Researchers

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Alexandra-Chloé Villani, PhD

Immune checkpoint inhibitors unleash the immune system to attack tumors; they have revolutionized the treatment of solid cancers by changing the prognosis for many patients, improving their quality of life and offering long-lasting remission. However, these immunotherapies can also spur assaults on healthy organs called “immune-related adverse events” (irAEs), ranging from minor rashes and fevers to severe gastrointestinal complications and deadly heart inflammation. Dr. Villani is analyzing patient samples using state-of-the-art genomic technologies and integrative immunological approaches to understand why and how these irAEs occur in cancer patients. Ultimately, she aims to identify therapeutic solutions to prevent or clinically manage irAEs without reducing the lifesaving potential of immunotherapy.

Project title: "Deciphering the Achilles' heel of cancer immunotherapy"
Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital
Award Program: Innovator
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Immunotherapy