CRI Funded Scientists

Jose Ramon Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD, CLIP Investigator

Duke University

Though chimeric antigen receptor expressing T cells (CAR T cells) have proven success in hematologic malignancies, their effectiveness in solid tumors has been largely unsuccessful thus far. Dr. Conejo-Garcia and his lab have found that a large family of molecules termed olfactory receptors are expressed in a variety of solid tumors of different histological subtypes, with a limited pattern of expression in normal tissues. They have generated a CAR that specifically targets OR2H1 on the surface of tumor cells and have found that OR2H1 CAR T cells effectively target tumor cells expressing OR2H1 in vitro and in vivo. To advance this technology towards phase I clinical testing, Dr. Conejo-Garcia will demonstrate that CAR T cells also target human tumors of different histology and expressing variable levels of OR2H1. Dr. Conejo-Garcia will also optimize sensitive methods to identify patients whose tumors express the OR2H1 target, which he plans to include in subsequent clinical testing. By the completion of the proposed approaches, Dr. Conejo-Garcia expects to support a rationale for IND approval, based on the demonstration that T cells redirected against OR2H1-expressing tumor cells represent a promising therapy against a broad range of epithelial cancers, likely with an admissible toxicity profile.

Projects and Grants

Olfactory receptor OR2H1 as an effective target for CAR T cells in human epithelial tumors

Duke University | All Cancers | 2022

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