Dr. Andrés Tittarelli
Universidad de Chile
The immune system is composed by numerous cell types and biological processes that through a coordinated action protect the body from various types of aggression, both external (as pathogens, pollutants, trauma) and internal (such as tumor cells). To carry out a coordinated and efficient immune response, the immune system cells establish various communication mechanisms, being the most known and studied those mediated by soluble factors (cytokines/chemokines) and by receptor-ligand interactions. Our central research objective is to decipher the non-canonical intercellular communication mechanisms (such us those mediated by gap junction-GJ -and exosomes) of the immune system and their impact on various pathologies, including cancer.
Specifically, our main research line aims to evaluate the contribution of GJ channels in the transfer of hypoxia-induced microRNAs from tumor cells to immune cells, and to determine their role in the modulation of gene expression, phenotype and antitumor activities of the microRNA-acceptor immune cells. The modulation of these communication mechanisms could have an enormous potential in the development of innovative immunotherapies.