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Weiguo Cui Laboratory

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Jennifer Wojtysiak

Sr. Administrative Assistant
Email 414-937-3854

Weiguo Cui Laboratory at Versiti Blood Research Institute

T cell biology

The Cui lab studies the differentiation, function and epigenetic regulation of T cells in various inflammatory settings, including acute and chronic viral infections, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. T cells are members of the adaptive immune system and are critical for defense against bacteria, viruses and malignant cells. We aim to better understand how T cells respond to different inflammatory stimuli using murine models of acute and chronic viral infection, type 1 diabetes, and cancer.

Weaponizing T Cells to Fight Cancer Weiguo Cui Research in a Minute Video

Research in a Minute Video

Weaponizing T Cells to Fight Cancer

Weiguo Cui, MD, PhD, is studying T cells to better understand why they experience something called T cell exhaustion, and why that causes them to lose their ability to fight cancer.

Watch the Video

Current Research Interests

T Cell Memory

During an acute viral or bacterial infection, naïve T cells can differentiate into multiple types of effector and memory T cells that help to mediate pathogen clearance and provide long-term protective immunity. The main goal of our research in the lab is to elucidate how TCR and cytokine signaling and their downstream transcriptional programs regulate pathogen-specific T cells to proliferate, or differentiate into either short-lived effector cells or long-lived memory cells.

T Cell Differentiation in Chronic Function

During persistent inflammation in chronic viral infections, CD8 T cells are thought to become “exhausted,” a term signifying loss of their normal cytotoxic function. However, recent work from our lab and others has shown that some CD8 T cells in chronic viral infection do not become “exhausted” and instead retain their cytotoxic function.

We are currently investigating what factors allow CD8 T cells to maintain their cytotoxic capacity, how CD4 T cells are involved in generating or regulating these factors, and how to leverage these factors to improve control over chronic viral infections.

Figure 1: CD4+ T Cell Help Is Required for the Formation of a Cytolytic CD8+ T Cell Subset that Protects against Chronic Infection and Cancer. Zander, et al. Immunity. 2019

Adoptive Cell Transfer for Cancer

Tumors are known to establish an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) that prevents CD8 T cells from killing tumor cells. Administration of attenuated bacteria directly into tumor sites is known to promote inflammation and improve tumor control.

Our lab has developed a method termed ReACT (Reenergized Adoptive Cell Transfer) in which tumor-reactive CD8 T cells are transduced with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) specific for a bacterial antigen.

Figure 2: ReACT therapy combines BCG-CAR transduced T cells and intravesical instillation of BCG to treat bladder cancer. (Patent: US 2018/0334651)

Co-administration of these modified T cells and bacteria into the tumor site significantly improves tumor control compared to standard CAR T cells or bacterial injection alone. We are currently working on advancing and improving this technology to advance treatment for solid tumors.

Adoptive Cell Transfer for Cancer

Tumors are known to establish an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) that prevents CD8 T cells from killing tumor cells. Administration of attenuated bacteria directly into tumor sites is known to promote inflammation and improve tumor control. Our lab has developed a method termed ReACT (Reenergized Adoptive Cell Transfer) in which tumor-reactive CD8 T cells are transduced with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) specific for a bacterial antigen. Co-administration of these modified T cells and bacteria into the tumor site significantly improves tumor control compared to standard CAR T cells or bacterial injection alone. We are currently working on advancing and improving this technology to advance treatment for solid tumors.

Related Articles

More News
  • Improving outcomes for children with cancer

    February 10, 2022 | Weiguo Cui, MD, PhD; Matthew Kudek, MD;

  • New research will further understanding of rare blood cancer

    February 7, 2022 |

  • Understanding disease progression at a cellular level

    November 3, 2020 | Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD

Researcher using a pipette to transfer blood samples.

Resources

Review a current list of faculty pages, published materials and resources for Dr. Cui.

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Weiguo Cui, PhD inspecting a sample with a fellow researcher

Lab Team

Weiguo Cui lab team biographies and pictures.

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Karen-Sue Carlson MD, PhD and Nan Zhu, PhD reviewing testing results.

Blood Research Institute

The Weiguo Cui laboratory is part of a group of dedicated immunobiology researchers at the Versiti Blood Research Institute.

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