The cytokine receptor CD137 is ectopically expressed by certain tumors, including Hodgkin Lymphoma, where it facilitates escape of the malignant cells from immune surveillance. We are developing approaches that target CD137 for tumor immunotherapy.
CD137 ligand (CD137L) signaling induces the differentiation of monocytes to CD137L-DC, a new type of inflammatory dendritic cell (DC). CD137L-DC stimulate immune responses more potently than classical DC. We started testing the potency of CD137L-DC for immunotherapy of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in a clinical trial.
CD137 and CD137L play pivotal roles in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus. We are evaluating the manipulation of CD137 and CD137L in order to ameliorate disease burden.