Zhi Zhang Yang, M.D., studies immune response in the tumor microenvironment of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a common cancer that usually involves lymph nodes and occasionally other tissues.
The clinical course of various types of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is different, and the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the variable prognoses are largely unknown.
In B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cells other than tumor cells are commonly seen within tumor tissue. These cells include T lymphocytes that seem to be more than simple residual elements from the normal lymph node structure. A high number of intratumoral T cells are associated with a better outcome for B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The underlying mechanisms by which intratumoral T cells play a role in regulating immune response — and how these T cells interact with tumor cells or other types of cells in the tumor microenvironment — are not clear in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
- Identification of different types of T cells phenotypically and functionally in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Different types of T cells play completely different roles and positively or negatively impact patient survival. Identifying these different T cell types is the basis for understanding how the immune response looks in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
- Exploration of cytokine-mediated immune response in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cytokines are soluble proteins produced by many types of cells and play a crucial role in regulating immune response. Dr. Yang's research is exploring how the immune response is mediated and regulated by cytokines.
- Determination of interaction between tumor cells and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. Tumor cells and immune cells coexist in tumor tissue. They interact constantly and adapt to each other. This interaction changes the status of the immune response in tumor patients. Dr. Yang's research is testing how this interaction happens and what mechanism is involved in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Yang's work in tumor immune response has accelerated better understanding of the tumor microenvironment in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for hematologists. Some discoveries may have therapeutic potential.