The research interests of Keith L. Knutson. Ph.D., focus on the immunology and immunotherapy of breast and ovarian cancers, both the basic immunobiology and clinical translation, including clinical trials.
In addition to his research, Dr. Knutson participates in and chairs several study sections, is co-director of the Mayo Clinic Immune Monitoring Core and director of the Mayo Clinic Ovarian Cancer Immunotherapy Program.
- Breast cancer vaccine. Dr. Knutson is the principal investigator of a $13.3 million, five-year Breakthrough Award grant from the Department of Defense to test a vaccine designed to prevent the recurrence of triple-negative breast cancer, a subset of breast cancer for which there are no targeted therapies.
- CD4 helper T cell vaccines. Dr. Knutson and colleagues conduct research on cancer vaccines focused on augmenting CD4 helper T cell immunity using peptide epitopes.
- Adoptive T cell therapy. A second strategy under investigation is adoptive T cell therapy, which involves infusing high numbers of T cells into patients with active bulky malignancy. Dr. Knutson's research in this area includes investigations of T cell expansion methods and in vitro generation of memory T cells.
- Tumors and the immune system. Research is also aimed at understanding how tumors evade the immune system. A number of different mechanisms and several areas of immune escape are being investigated, including cellular reprogramming (for example, epithelial to mesenchymal transition) and recruitment of regulatory T cells and myeloid derived suppressor cells into the tumor microenvironment.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Knutson's research is aimed at preventing patients with cancer from relapsing after receiving optimal conventional therapies.
- Principal investigator, Breakthrough Award, Breast Cancer Research Program, Department of Defense, 2016-2021