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Research Highlights

Our research centers on deciphering the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling antitumor immunity, and exploiting knowledge to device the next-generation cancer immunotherapies.

Two active research directions are:

1.Identify new immune checkpoints and develop new immune checkpoint blockade therapy for cancer.

  • New immune metabolic checkpoints (e.g., creatine).
  • New neuron/immune interface checkpoints (e.g., serotonin axis).

2. Develop novel “off-the-shelf” allogeneic immune cell therapies for cancer.

  • Harnessing unconventional T cells: NKT, γδT, MAIT, and more.
  • Engineering stem cells: iPSC, HSC, and more.
  • Exploiting gene therapy modalities: TCR, CAR, immune enhancers, and more.
  • Targeting a broad range of cancers: blood cancers (e.g., multiple myeloma, AML), solid tumors (e.g., ovarian cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer), and more (e.g., infections and autoimmune disorders). 

Featured Publications

Li Y-R*, Zhou Y*, Yu J*, Kim YJ, Li M, Lee D, Zhou K, Chen Y, Zhu Y, Wang Y-C, Li Z, Yu Y, Dunn ZS, Guo W, Cen X, Husman T, Bajpai A, Kramer A, Wilson M, Fang Y, Huang J, Li S, Zhou Y, Zhang Y, Hahn Z, Zhu E, Ma F, Pan C, Lusis AJ, Zhou JJ, Seet CS, Kohn DB, Wang P, Zhou XJ, Pellegrini M, Puliafito BR, Larson SM, and Yang L. (*Co-first authors)  Generation of allogeneic CAR-NKT cells from hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells using a clinically guided culture method. Nat. Biotechnol. 2024, May 14. Online ahead of print. [Nature Biotechnology  PDF][Nature Biotechnology News & Views  PDF][Nature Portfolio  PDF][UCLA Newsroom  PDF][UCLA Health News  PDF][UCLA BSCRC News  PDF][Bioquick News  PDF]

Lee D*, Dunn ZS*, Guo W*, Rosenthal CJ, Penn NE, Yu Y, Zhou K, Li Z, Ma F, Li M, Song T-C, Cen X, Li Y-R, Zhou JJ, Pellegrini M, Wang P, and Yang L. (*Co-first authors) Unlocking the potential of allogeneic Vδ2 T cells for ovarian cancer therapy through CD16 biomarker selection and CAR/IL-15 engineering. Nat Commun. 2023, 14(1):6942. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-42619-2. [Nature Communications  PDF][UCLA News  PDF][Springer Nature Blog  PDF]

Wang X, Li B, Kim Y, Wang Y, Li Z, Yu J, Zeng S, Ma X, Choi I, Di Biase S, Smith DJ, Zhou Y, Li Y, Ma F, Huang J, Clarke N, To A, Gong L, Pham A, Moon H, Pellegrini M, and Yang L. Targeting monoamine oxidase A for T cell-based cancer immunotherapy. Sci Immunol. 2021, 6:eabh2383. [Science Immunology  PDF][Science Magazine News  PDF][UCLA News  PDF][CBS News  PDF][NBC News  PDF][Fierce Biotech News  PDF][Drug Target Review News  PDF]

Featured News

May 14, 2024

May 14, 2024- Our research article is published on Nature Biotechnology, reporting the generation of allogeneic CAR-NKT cells from hematopoietic... Read More

November 15, 2023

We are currently recruiting PhD students (2 openings) and postdoctoral researchers (1 opening). Welcome to apply! [PhD Openings][Postdoc Openings]... Read More

March 7, 2023

March 7, 2023- Dr. Lili Yang is named on the BIOS list of Top Women in Academic Entrepreneurship alongside recent... Read More

August 5, 2021

May 11, 2021- Our off-the-shelf cell therapy technology is licensed by a Biotech startup, Appia Bio, for commercial development. The... Read More

May 18, 2021

Dr. Lili Yang receives a $5.9 million CIRM Partnering Opportunity for Translational Research Projects Award to translate a new stem... Read More