Srividya Swaminathan Lab
The research focus of Dr. Swaminathan and her laboratory in the Department of Systems Biology will be identifying non-cytotoxic and targeted immunotherapies for treating oncogene-addicted lymphoid malignancies, such as, those driven by MYC, MLL and ABL rearrangements. A large number of lymphoid neoplasms are currently being treated with conventional chemotherapies that are toxic for normal cells. Of note, healthy lymphocytes express the normal counterparts of oncoproteins, making direct targeting of oncogenes difficult. Therefore, identification of therapies that can specifically target cancer cells is required. The immune system is a natural defense mechanism against cancers that can be activated to specifically kill malignant cells.
Development of targeted immunotherapy against lymphoid malignancies requires distinguishing normal and malignant lymphocytes in two respects: (1) Cell-intrinsic signaling, that includes surface molecules and intracellular signaling, and (2) Regulation of immune microenvironment. Dr. Swaminathan’s laboratory will study these aspects by comparing both cell-intrinsic processes, and the spatial and temporal distribution of the immune system during normal and malignant lymphopoiesis; using approaches including mass cytometry (CyTOF), CIBERSORT, and humanized mouse models. This knowledge will be applied for the development of cell-based and other immunotherapies. Her laboratory at the City of Hope is currently funded by a 5-year start-up package, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Scholar Award, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Special Fellow Award.