About the Webinar

Therapies that activate the host immune system have shown tremendous promise for a wide variety of solid tumors. However, in most cancer types, fewer than half of patients respond to these therapies. We have shown that epigenetic therapies can increase immune signaling from tumors, and sensitize them to immune therapy. Specifically, treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (DNMTis) and histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) upregulate interferon signaling and T cell recruitment in solid tumors. Demethylation and expression of bidirectionally transcribed endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) is a major component of the dsRNA that activates this response. Treatment with a combination of DNMTI+ HDACi+ anti-PD-1 significantly reduces tumor burden and increases survival in a mouse ovarian cancer model. We thus define a major mechanism for how epigenetic regulation of noncoding RNA may induce cancer cells to increase attraction and activation of immune cells and sensitize patients to immunotherapy.


About the Presenter

Chiappinelli Head Shot


Katherine Bakshian Chiappinelli, Ph.D., joined the George Washington University Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine in 2017 as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Chiappinelli graduated with a B.S. in Biology and Music from Haverford College in 2007 and received her Ph.D. in Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology from George Washington University in St. Louis under the supervision of Dr. Paul Goodfellow in 2012. Dr. Chiappinelli pursued postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University with Dr. Stephen Baylin, investigating the epigenetic control of immune signaling in cancer cells. Her research focuses on how epigenetic therapies can be used against cancers, specifically in the context of arming the host immune system to fight cancer cells. Kate is passionate about undergraduate science education and community science outreach, with extensive experience working with high school students in urban environments.

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