2016 Recipient — Qian Tan, MD, PhD

Qian Tan, MD, PhD

Activation of Macrophages by Inhibiting CD47 Signaling in Ovarian Cancers

Project Summary

Activation of macrophages via inhibition of CD47 signaling is a novel therapeutic approach to cancers. Phagocytosis depends upon the balance of pro-phagocytic and anti-phagocytic inputs. Cancer cells express various pro-phagocytic signals such as calreticulin and phosphatidyl serine but counter these with increased expression of CD47. Binding of CD47 to its receptor SIRPa on macrophages initiates a signal cascade, resulting in inhibition of phagocytosis. Blocking CD47 from interaction with SIRPa results in phagocytosis of the cancer cells. Irv Weissman’s group at Stanford has developed a humanized monoclonal anti-CD47 antibody Hu5F9-G4 that has remarkable anticancer activity in many human cancers in preclinical studies, including ovarian cancer (OC) xenografts. The underlying hypothesis of this proposal is that activation of macrophages against serous ovarian cancers will provide a novel and effective therapy for this disease. It is a treatment that may have clinical benefit as a single agent, but much more importantly may add to the small but real curative benefit of existing regimens.

Areas of Research:


Qian Susie Tan, MD, MSc, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Branimir I. Sikic in the division of oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her bachelor’s (1999) in medicine from Tianjin Medical University in China. She was conferred master’s (2009) in science at York University in Canada. She obtained her doctorate (2015) in medical biophysics at University of Toronto with major in oncology under the guidance of Prof. Ian F. Tannock (Order of Canada recipient). As a result of Dr. Tan’s scientific work, Dr. Tannock obtained a 3-year CIHR grant to perform a Phase II study in prostate cancer patients. Dr. Tan also nominated for rising star Prostate Cancer Canada award in 2013.

Dr. Tan is currently investigating the role of activated macrophages as a novel cancer therapy for ovarian cancers, by inhibiting the “don’t-eat-me” signal CD47, in collaboration with Irving Weissman’s group, who have pioneered this approach. Her CD47 research is supported by NIH grant to Prof. Sikic, and the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research to Prof. Weissman.