Researcher Spotlight: Xu Cao, PhD

City of Hope and Beckman Research Institute

Many types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) remain incurable due to its intrinsic genomic instability facilitating the escape from cytotoxic or targeted therapies. “Recent breakthroughs in understanding macrophage-mediated immune surveillance led to a novel immunotherapeutic agent, namely CD47 blocking antibody which enables macrophages to phagocytose (eat) NHL cells,” says Dr. Cao. “However, as a monotherapy, CD47 blocking antibody produces a marginal efficacy in NHL patients, highlighting a necessity to combine it with agents conferring synergistic effects.” Dr. Cao explains that paclitaxel (Taxol), an FDA-approved anti-cancer drug, promoted the anti-cancer activity of macrophage and synergized with CD47 blocking antibodies to eradicate NHL in mice,” explains Dr. Cao.
Dr. Cao’s LRF grant proposes to validate further the therapeutic effects of this combination in more clinically relevant NHL animal models and to investigate the mechanisms involved. Considering the excellent safety profile of both agents, the completion of this investigation may readily lead to clinical trials to test the viability of this combination for the treatment of NHL patients.

Dr. Cao completed his PhD from the National University of Singapore, after his studies he began work at the City of Hope National Medical Center with Dr. Mingye Feng, where they investigated macrophage-mediated immunosurveillance in lymphoma. “Dr. Feng’s vision inspires me that rational combination may lead to a cure and initiated this project with the hope to find a cure for lymphoma,” Dr. Cao remarks.
His goal is to have his research team to find new treatments for lymphoma. “With support from LRF, I will have dedicated resources to complete the projects,” Dr. Cao notes. “Meanwhile, this will give me chances to get connected with research scientists and clinicians in the field of lymphoma research. LRF will pave the way for me to pursue a research career in lymphoma with the hope of eradicating lymphoma.”