Li's laboratory has recently found that IL-27 receptor deficiency doubled the incidence of osteosarcoma and other types of tumors cells with p53 alteration through perhaps additive induction of a specialized macrophage population. Of note, IL-6 could directly transform TGF-β altered normal stem liver cells (NCM) to metastatic cancer stem cells (mCSC) via constitutive activation of TAK1.
In the aspect of immune therapy, Li's laboratory is interested in discovering novel approaches of immune therapy and diagnosis. For example, his laboratory has discovered co-delivery of IL-12 and bleomycin via electroporation results in simultaneous eradication of large tumors and induction of systemic immune response, yielding significant improvement in overall and long-term survival in dogs and mice.
Li's recent efforts focus on discovery of novel combination treatment for boosting T cell (autologous, TIL, and CAR-T cells) deep penetration/infiltration into solid tumors, referred to as iTIL therapy. His laboratory is also exploring the use of a self-developed universal circulating tumor cell (CTC) detection tool for examining the immune response to therapy. Some of his laboratory discoveries have been licensed to biotechnology companies.