Tumor biology, tumor immunology, cancer immunotherapy
Dr. Liu’s research interests are mainly on tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. He is working on the development of dendritic cell-based immunotherapy for cancers and the screening of compounds that can modulate functions of dendritic cells. Another related research is the identification and clinical application of tumor markers and tumor-associated antigens in cancer. Dr. Liu is also interested in the identification of molecular markers and genetic factors in lung, oral and liver cancers. In collaboration with other investigators, Dr. Liu is also working on the screening of compounds that have anti-angiogenesis capacity. His recent research is focused on the interaction of cells in tumor microenvironment, including tumor cells, immune cells, endothelial cells and stem cells.
RESEARCH ACTIVITIES & ACCOMPLISHMENT
One of the research directions of the National Institute of Cancer Research is to develop DC-based immunotherapy for advanced cancers in Taiwan. Dr. Liu has been working on projects aiming at this direction. He has planed four stages of development. The first stage of research is to establish procedures for generation and characterization of DCs from normal donors and cancer patients in the laboratory, and perform pre-clinical studies on DCs to prepare for clinical application. The second stage of research is to conduct initial clinical studies with in vitro generated DCs for advanced cancers using known CTL epitopes or autologous tumor cells as the sources of antigen. The third stage of research is to investigate on novel or modified approaches for DC-based therapy with in vitro experiments or animal tumor models in the laboratory. The fourth stage is to translate new approaches developed in his laboratory to clinical applications. Dr. Liu and co-workers have now completed the first stage of laboratory studies on DC preparation. For the second stage of research, they have completed two pilot phase-I clinical trials of DC-based immunotherapy for advanced colorectal and lung cancers. The results from these two phase-I trials are very encouraging. To continue these researches, he is now conducting a new phase-I/II clinical study to further evaluate the efficacy of such treatment in colorectal cancer. For the third stage of research, they have completed initial studies on the modification of DC-based immunotherapy using gene-modified tumor cells combined with DC vaccine in animal tumor models. Follow-up research of these studies is currently in progress. The fourth stage of studies will be their future research goal. He thinks that they are on the road to fulfill the goal of developing and conducting DC-based immunotherapy for advanced cancers in Taiwan, as a collaboration of laboratory researchers and clinical physicians in the Institute and other medical centers.