Dr. WILLIAM K. DECKER
Associate Professor of Pathology & Immunology
William K. Decker, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He is an internationally recognized expert in dendritic cell biology, cancer immunology and immunotherapy, and Th-1 immunity. Dr. Decker is a prinicipal Advisor to APAC Biotech’s scientific advisory board and offers his scientific opinion of dendritic cell immunotherapy. Dendritic cell immunotherapy has long been anticipated to be an important weapon in the fight against cancer. Dendritic cells are the master regulatory cells of the adaptive immune response; hence all immunoregulatory decisions, including those pertaining to anticancer responses, start with the dendritic cell. Dendritic cells live in the periphery where they serve as immune sentinels, constantly sampling the antigenic milieu and presenting antigenic peptides of this milieu on the cell surface. Upon detection of an inflammatory stimulus or “danger signal”, dendritic cells mature and migrate to the lymph nodes where they function by presenting antigens to CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes. These primed lymphocytes then migrate into the periphery where they seek out and destroy cells presenting the same antigens against which they were primed. The concept of providing dendritic cells to the patient for cancer therapy is meant to mimic the natural function of dendritic cells in vivo. To perform this procedure, white blood cells are removed from the patient and differentiated into dendritic cells in an ex vivo tissue culture system. Once generated, the dendritic cells are exposed to antigens derived from patient tumor cells after which they are matured and reintroduced into the patient to prime downstream immune responses. While this paradigm sounds simple in theory, it has proven highly complex in practice.