The Houghton Laboratory includes an interesting mix of molecular biologists, immunologists, medical oncologists, and surgeons. This environment provides cross-fertilization of scientists and clinical investigators.
The laboratory is interested in 2 fundamental questions:
- How does the immune system recognize cancer, particularly mutations?
- How does the immune system reject cancer?
These studies have identified molecules and molecular targets on cancer cells that are potentially useful for therapy, and they have produced more than several dozen clinical trials that have progressed in several cases to pivotal Phase III trials.
Thus, one is exposed to basic laboratory research that can be translated into clinical studies. Members of the laboratory were the first to show that monoclonal antibodies can effectively produce tumor regression in patients with solid tumors. In addition, members of the laboratory were among the first to develop anti-idiotype vaccines, peptide vaccines, glycolipid vaccines, and DNA/gene therapy vaccines for use in people with cancer.