The immune system comprises a small, powerful network of blood cells that survey, detect and destroy almost all harmful invasions by germs or viruses but it often is unable to fight against deadly diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Lili Yang seeks to understand how the immune system responds to attack by disease. Through her research, Yang hopes to develop effective therapies that will engineer the immune system of patients suffering from cancer and AIDS by manipulating their own blood cells to fight their diseases.
Human bodies often do not mount an immune response to cancer because the disease is the uncontrolled division of the body's own cells. Yang’s earlier research showed that immune cells, including hematopoietic (blood) stem cells, T-cells and dendritic cells can be engineered to promote an immune response against disease. Her current research builds upon her past work on the immune system monitoring of and interaction with cancer cells, the suppression of the immune response against cancer, and ultimately, the translation of these discoveries into clinical uses such as engineering the immune system to fight cancer.
Yang’s research is collaborative involving a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research group called the Translational Consortium in Engineered Immunity. The group includes UCLA clinicians and scientists as well as researchers from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and University of Southern California.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Yang L, Boldin MP, Yu Y, Liu CS, Ea CK, Ramakrishnan P, Taganov KD, Zhao JL, Baltimore D. miR-146a controls the resolution of T cell responses in mice. J Exp Med. 2012 Aug 27;209(9):1655-70. doi: 10.1084/jem.20112218. Epub 2012 Aug 13.
Yang L, Yu Y, Kalwani M, Tseng TW, Baltimore D. Homeostatic cytokines orchestrate the segregation of CD4 and CD8 memory T-cell reservoirs in mice. Blood. 2011 Sep 15;118(11):3039-50. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-04-349746. Epub 2011 Jul 26.
Baltimore D, Witte ON, Yang L, Economou J, Ribas A. Overcoming barriers to programming a therapeutic cellular immune response to fight melanoma. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010 Apr;23(2):288-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00666.x. Epub 2010 Jan 7.
Yang L, Yang H, Rideout K, Cho T, Joo KI, Ziegler L, Elliot A, Walls A, Yu D, Baltimore D, Wang P. Engineered lentivector targeting of dendritic cells for in vivo immunization. Nat Biotechnol. 2008 Mar;26(3):326-34. doi: 10.1038/nbt1390. Epub 2008 Feb 24.
Yang L, Baltimore D. Long-term in vivo provision of antigen-specific T cell immunity by programming hematopoietic stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Mar 22;102(12):4518-23. Epub 2005 Mar 9.