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Medical University of Graz

Julia Kargl, PhD

Julia KARGL is a molecular biologist and her research interests are at the intersection of tumor immunology and pharmacology. Cancer is a heterogeneous disease characterized by histologic subtypes and mutational landscapes. Recently, it has been realized that a large proportion of cells within the tumor microenvironment (TME) are non-cancerous cells, including fibroblasts and immune cells, leading to the development of immune-based therapies. Given the limited treatment options for many cancer patients it is not surprising that initial success of immunotherapies has created enthusiasm, yet, response rates are just ~20%. This highlights the need to identify additional immune suppressive factors located within the TME that when targeted, would improve the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade. Employing established cancer cell lines, tumor tissue from consented patients and functional in vitro and in vivo models, our group seeks to understand the mechanisms of immunotherapy failure. Current projects in the lab focus on immune suppressive cells in the TME and mechanisms by which they get recruited into the TME and inhibit lymphocyte function. Further, we are interested in mechanisms how myeloid cells in the TME enhance tumor cell proliferation and metastasis.

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