No one needs to tell Drs. David H. Munn and Andrew L. Mellor the importance of collaborative research -- they've been doing it for nearly 13 years.
The result of applying Dr. Munn's clinical cancer research to genetically manipulated mice in Dr. Mellor's laboratory led to the groundbreaking discovery of the role indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase, an enzyme known as IDO, plays in fetal survival.
“It wasn't until Andy brought his sophisticated tools to campus in 1995 that that we found the presence of this IDO mechanism,” said Dr. Munn, a professor of pediatric hematology/oncology.
Their discovery that the immunosuppressant IDO enzyme is also expressed by tumors is a classic example of an “outside the box” scientific approach that could one day help doctors fight cancer.
“To get to the answer in cancer, you need to understand how cancers take over and grow,” said Dr. Mellor, an immunologist and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.
As co-directors of the Immuno Discovery Institute, their team will focus on new therapies for cancer, organ-transplant rejection and infectious and autoimmune diseases.
“Clinically, the world is divided into oncology and infectious disease and autoimmunity
and all these various syndromes. But in terms of basic science, the same mechanisms
often have a role in different diseases; that's why these Discovery Institutes need
to be themed around mechanisms and not around traditional departmental- or diseaserelated
Dr. David H. Munn
Co-director Immuno Discovery Institute