Immunotherapy & Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Research Group (Capitini)

Our group focuses on using adoptive cellular therapies, like natural killer (NK) cell and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell infusions to cure pediatric cancers. We also engineer monocytes/macrophages using exosomes to reduce toxicity from immune-related adverse events, such as graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) and acute radiation syndrome.

Early Progress Seen in Pediatric Immunotherapy

Cellular Immunotherapy: One component of the Immunotherapy & Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Research Group is exploring methods to improve the usage of NK cells to treat children with solid tumors. We are also developing imaging techniques to monitor NK cell trafficking into tumors in real time, allowing us to understand where they go and how long they persist after infusion.

Engineering and Observing a Graft-vs-Tumor Effect Against Neuroblastoma

We also study how CAR T cells can be used to treat pediatric cancers. Dr. Capitini is a site Principal Investigator for clinical trials studying how CAR T cells treat children with high risk B cell leukemia. The Immunotherapy & Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Research Group is also developing non-viral approaches to generate CAR T cells to treat solid tumors as well as innovative methods for tracking them after infusion.

NCI Announces Support for Research in Cell-based Immunotherapies of Human Cancer

Immune-related adverse events: Total body irradiation is often used as a preparatory regimen before allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant because it can eliminate the host’s hematopoietic cells, called hematopoietic acute radiation syndrome, and also eliminate residual leukemia. It can also contribute to the development of acute GVHD, which is caused by donor T cells attacking normal host tissues that have been damaged by the irradiation such as the liver, skin or gut. We are developing alternatively activated monocytes and macrophages, using exosomes from mesenchymal stromal cells, to treat acute radiation syndrome and GVHD.

Additional Research Activities

  • Basic, translational and clinical research of pediatric cancers
  • Adoptive cell therapies (NK cell and CAR T cell infusions)
  • Models of bone marrow transplant
  • Graft-versus-host-disease
  • Acute radiation syndrome
  • Macrophages

Research Opportunities – Graduate Students

For students interested in obtaining a PhD, Dr. Capitini is a trainer for the Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP), Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB), Clinical Investigation (ICTR), and Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBMS) Graduate Programs. For more information, please click on the link for each program above.

Research Opportunities – Postdoctoral Fellows

Interested applicants with experience in cellular immunology, tumor models and/or genetic engineering may send a cover letter, CV, and emails for 3 references to ccapitini@pediatrics.wisc.edu for consideration.

Research News