Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine

at the University of Washington

Core Faculty

Alvin Liu PhD

University of Washington
Research Associate Professor


Office: 206.221.0603

We work on solving the cancer problem. For prostate cancer, we have developed a multi-marker urine test for early detection. We have generated a human:mouse chimeric antibody that targets eAGR2, a cancer-specific cell surface antigen present on many solid tumor types including prostate, pancreatic, lung, breast, colorectal, oral. Antibodies bind to eAGR2+ cancer cells and recruit immune components to kill the target as in our normal immune response. A chimeric antibody has the mouse antigen binding domain coupled to human effector domain that interacts with human immune factors such as T cells and complement proteins. We are carrying out reprogramming of cancer cells to determine if cancer stem cells exist because these cells are hypothesized to cause tumorigenesis. This study has uncovered a possible link between the more treatable adenocarcinoma and untreatable small cell carcinoma (found most commonly in lung cancer). Another study involves the signaling/communication between epithelial (normal counterpart of cancer) and stromal cells, the latter regulate epithelial differentiation. We found a number of stromal cell genes missing in prostate and bladder tumors.

Our goal is to find a cure for cancer. This requires a molecular understanding of cancer development and progression. And, to develop a strategy for cancer vaccination since cell surface eAGR2 is specific to cancer (normal cells have iAGR2, intracellular vs. extracellular, in the interior). A primed immune system will eliminate any newly arisen cancer cells with eAGR2 while normal cells with iAGR2 will not be affected.

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