CRI Funded Scientists

Alexandra Q. Bartlett, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellowship

Oregon Health & Science University

Area of Research: All Cancers, Liver Cancer

Traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation clear disease in less than 1% of patients. The most promising new treatments for advanced cancer leverage the immune system to recognize and destroy the cancer. One kind of immune-based therapy, CAR T cell therapy, uses genetic engineering to instruct a patient’s own immune cells to attack their cancer. CAR T cell therapy has been effective in blood cancers with complete destruction of advanced cancer in 40-78% of patients. However, this success has not translated to cancers growing in solid organs (e.g. breast, liver, lung, prostate, etc.). Patients with cancer in their liver have very poor survival rates; thus, it is imperative that new, bold strategies are developed for this difficult cancer type.

Previous efforts to use CAR T cells to treat solid cancers have failed to balance effectiveness with safety for healthy tissues. In this proposal, Dr. Bartlett will take advantage of vascular anatomy and basic T cell biology to build a safer, more effective CAR T cell to treat cancers that have spread to the liver. Specifically, she will design the CAR to recognize a protein with high expression on liver metastases, but not healthy liver cells. Then, she will restrict localization of the CAR T cells to the liver. If successful, Dr. Bartlett’s approach would be readily translated to the clinic for treatment of patients with cancer in their liver. Furthermore, this approach would create a template that could be applied to other solid cancers.

Projects and Grants

A novel strategy to safely target shared antigens with CAR T cells in solid cancer

Oregon Health & Science University | Liver Cancer, All Cancers | 2023 | Robert Eil, MD

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