Dr. Akhavan conducts an activate research laboratory that develops cell-based immunotherapy targeting malignant brain tumors. He and his lab team focus on a molecular dissection of tumor antigen loss, T cell exhaustion and cell manufacturing bottlenecks.
Glioblastoma is a uniformly fatal diagnosis. Median survival is only 12-14 months after standard of care surgery and chemoradiation. Novel therapies are desperately needed. Immunotherapy is rapidly transforming the treatment of a broad range of cancer types. Unfortunately, clinical trials of immunotherapy against brain tumors have been unsuccessful. However, the clinical trial experience has identified barriers to tumor eradication; namely tumor antigen heterogeneity, immune-suppressive tumor micro-environment, and T-cell exhaustion. By leveraging a broad array of tools, including immunocompetent murine glioma models, patient derived xenografts, and clinical trial data, our laboratory seeks to faithfully model the host-tumor microenvironment. Armed with this data, we plan to develop potent combination therapies towards the goal of glioma eradication.