Scientific focus and achievements

The Marasco Laboratory is located in the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Our general research interests are in the field of targeted immunotherapy. The Lab’s work has made major scientific advances in the treatment of infectious diseases and cancer.  More recently, we have been developing humanized mice to support our targeted immunotherapy studies and to investigate the roles of human adult stem cells in regenerative medicine.

Specifically, the Lab’s research interests are in human monoclonal antibody (Mab) immunotherapy and broad-spectrum anti-viral vaccine development. We use human Mabs in functional and structural studies to understand mechanisms of viral entry, identify common targets that provide broad-spectrum protection, and develop strategies that prevent the viruses from undergoing neutralization escape.  Vaccinated/infected humans and humanized mice are the B-cell sources of antibody genes for these studies.

Our discoveries of common and highly conserved structural elements on the envelope glycoproteins that serve as cross-neutralizing targets for Mab therapy have allowed us to make therapeutic inroads into the prevention and treatment of a wide range of human pathogenic coronaviruses, flaviviruses, and influenza A viruses.  The Marasco Laboratory has advanced therapeutic Mab development through NIH-NIAID product development programs in the areas of SARS, West Nile virus, and Influenza A infections. The Lab’s pioneering studies in influenza, which resulted in our finding of a "universal" vaccine target that can provide broad-spectrum protection against a wide range of influenza A viruses, has led to a paradigm shift in the field of influenza immunotherapy and vaccine development.

Our National Foundation of Cancer Research (NFCR) Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering (CTAE) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is working in a broad range of discovery and translational research in cancer.  We have the tools, know-how and expertise to advance our novel immunotherapy discoveries from bench to bedside.

We have a major effort in constructing and improving humanized mice (a.k.a. humouse) and in improving their performance and utility in different biomedical research applications.  Our internal research programs are in the areas of human B cell development, optimizing vaccines against infectious agents (influenza A, HIV-1, Denge) and human antibody immunotherapy.  We are also using these humanized mice for investigations related to adult stem cell biology and regenerative medicine which are now becoming central efforts in the laboratory.  For more details, please visit www.humouse.org.