CRI Funded Scientists

Catalina Lee Chang, PhD, CRI CLIP Investigator

Northwestern University

Area of Research: Brain Cancer

Immunotherapy has transformed cancer treatment, but its success has not yet been fully realized for brain tumors. Dr. Lee Chang is investigating the role of B cells, a type of immune cell, in improving immunotherapy for brain tumors. B cells have been found to be critical for the success of immune-checkpoint blockade therapy (ICB) in other cancers. However, in brain tumors, B cells are suppressed due to the presence of certain checkpoint molecules (CD22, CD32, and CD72), hindering their ability to fight cancer effectively. 

To overcome this suppression, Dr. Lee Chang has identified a key factor called TGF-b receptor 2 (TGFbR2) as a modulator of B cell activity in glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor. By targeting TGFbR2 and TGFb1, she was able to activate B cells and boost plasmablast-like cells, which are crucial for antibody production and activating T cells, important in cancer defense. 

Dr. Lee Chang aims to use CRI CLIP funding to develop engineered B cells that can resist the tumor’s immunosuppressive environment. She plans to collect B cells from glioblastoma patients’ blood samples and use CRISPR-based gene editing to remove the inhibitory molecules (TGFbR2, CD22, CD32, and CD72). By doing so, she aims to create B cells that can better function within the tumor microenvironment and produce antibodies to target cancer cells effectively. This research offers hope for improving immunotherapy and enhancing treatment outcomes for brain tumor patients. 

Projects and Grants

Development of a genetically engineered B cell therapy for brain tumors 

Northwestern University | Brain Cancer | 2023

This website uses tracking technologies, such as cookies, to provide a better user experience. If you continue to use this site, then you acknowledge our use of tracking technologies. For additional information, review our Privacy Policy.