Edwin M. Horwitz, MD, PhD
Director of Transplantation Biology and Therapeutics,
Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Professor of Pediatrics,
Emory University School of Medicine
Our laboratory focuses on the biology and clinical applications of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). Our research team was the first to infuse allogenic MSCs into patients and the first to infuse genetically modified MSCs into patients. Most recently, we have identified a novel mechanism of engineered MSC-mediated immune modulation that may be especially important for the prevention of graft-vs-host disease, a complication of blood and marrow transplantation in which donor T cells attack the patients’ healthy tissues. Our laboratory is directed toward elucidating the molecule and cellular mechanism of this activity and clinically, we are implementing a first-in-human clinical trial to test the therapeutic value. In a second avenue of research, we have shown that transduced, cytokine-secreting MSCs can be injected into a solid tumor in a murine xenograft model and modify the tumor microenvironment which impairs tumor growth. We are now directing our efforts to modify the immunologic milieu of the tumor microenvironment to enable cellular immunotherapy, or ideally, stimulate an endogenous cellular immune response which could promote tumor therapy as well as provide long-term immune surveillance.