CRI Funded Scientists

Kathryn Miller-Jensen, Ph.D., Technology Impact Award Grantee

Yale University

Area of Research: Melenoma

Treatment of advanced-stage melanoma is a race against time for patient survival. Cancer immunotherapy offers one of the best hopes by restoring a patient’s own immune response to fight the tumors, but many tumors are resistant and doctors cannot predict which patients will have a positive outcome without waiting precious months to see if the tumors continue to grow. Molecular signals from the patient’s immune system secreted within the tumor activate the therapeutic anti-tumor immune response. If these signals could be measured directly and repeatedly from patient tumors over time, then there is a chance that such immediate feedback could be used to personalize therapy and greatly improve cancer treatment outcomes. To this end, Yale and Lodestone are collaborating to demonstrate in a preclinical mouse model of melanoma that a novel biosensor and computational model can predict which mice will respond to immunotherapy. The implantable biosensor developed by Lodestone Biomedical contains magnetic nanoparticles capable of detecting immune response signals in tumors in real time. The technical feasibility of this project is based on exciting preliminary data demonstrating biosensor functionality, combined with Yale’s extensive experience using quantitative experimental approaches to analyze immune responses in melanoma tumors. Dr. Miller-Jensen will first validate the specificity and accuracy of the biosensors for monitoring tumor response to immunotherapy. She will then determine if the biosensor measurements can predict response. Successful completion of this project would demonstrate the potential for monitoring of tumor signals as a transformative approach for real-time evaluation of immunotherapy responses in patients.

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