Improving T Cell Therapies for Cancer Treatment
The immune system is critical for fighting cancer. T cells in particular are important for directly killing cancer cells. There are treatments currently available that work to boost the ability of T cells to recognize cancer, however, only 30% of patients respond to these treatments. This is because cancer can create a signal “desert” that does not have the necessary signals killer T cells need to function and survive.
My research is focused on designing a synthetic activator to insert into killer T cells that will enable them to survive and kill cancer cells even in a signal desert. In the future, I will test this activator in a different group of T cells, called helper T cells, which help build an immune response to fight cancer. If this activator can be used in helper T cells in combination with killer T cells to increase their survival and function without need for outside signals, then we can hopefully reach the 70% of cancer patients who do not respond to current T cell therapies.
I am incredibly thankful that the PhRMA Foundation believes in my research and awarded me the Predoctoral Drug Discovery Fellowship. With this funding, I will use my knowledge of the immune system and signal transduction to enhance cancer immunotherapies.