The thematic of our group, within the Dendritic Cell Immunology Unit, is immunology of the bladder with two broad projects focused on the related topics of response to uropathogens and response to immunotherapy for bladder cancer. The bladder is a unique and important mucosal barrier that remains relatively understudied. The two most prevalent diseases of the bladder are urinary tract infection (UTI), affecting nearly 50% of all women, and bladder cancer, which is the fourth most common malignancy in men and the 8th in women in the US and Europe. Importantly, both diseases have exorbitant health care associated costs and limited treatment options.
Our objective is to understand how adaptive immunity develops in the context of infection and immunotherapy in these two very different diseases. During UTI, adaptive immune responses are subverted by bladder-resident macrophages, leading to insufficient protection against challenge infection. By contrast, BCG immunotherapy for bladder cancer induces robust cytotoxic T cell responses and efficacious tumor immunity. Ongoing efforts are aimed at understanding these differences to improve treatments for both UTI and bladder cancer.