Qing Yi, MD, PhD
Chair, Cancer Biologyyiq@ccf.org 216.636.7058 (o) 216.444.3164 (f)
The Yi Laboratory has been working on tumor immunology and immunotherapy in multiple myeloma (MM) for 20 years. We were first to demonstrate the existence of idiotype-specific T cells in patients with MM and related disorders and that idiotype-specific cytotoxic T cells could lyse autologous primary myeloma cells. We were first to use patient-derived idiotype proteins to vaccinate MM patients and demonstrated that idiotype-specific T-cell immunity can be enhanced in patients by repeated vaccine injections. Our current work focuses on identifying and using novel and shared MM antigens, e.g., DKK1 and MM-derived heat shock proteins, as tumor antigens to treat patients.
My group is generating novel monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to treat patients with MM and other cancers. We discovered that mAbs specific to human b2-microglobulin (b2M) induce programmed death of MM and other hematological tumor cells. These mAbs were also active and therapeutic in vivo in xenograft mouse models. Our goal is to develop these and other mAbs as therapeutic agents to treat patients with MM and other malignancies.
We are also working to better understand the importance of the tumor microenvironment in MM resistance to drug treatment and immunotherapies. We discovered that MM-associated soluble factor C-reactive protein (CRP) and macrophages protect MM cells from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Elevated CRP levels and higher numbers of macrophages are present in MM patients, and we are elucidating the mechanisms underlying the protective roles of these factors or cells and identifying and developing novel therapies to target these protective environments.