CRI Funded Scientists

Tijana Martinov, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Area of Research: Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the United States, and with more than 30,000 new cases expected this year, there is an urgent need to develop more effective therapies. One promising approach involves engineering a patient’s own immune cells—their T cells—with a new T cell receptor that enables them to selectively recognize and kill cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues.

Sox2 might be a good target for this engineered T cell therapy because of its importance in regulating the growth of myeloma cells. Patients with pre-existing T cells that recognize Sox2 also have slower disease progression, but the magnitude of the elicited T cell response is generally weak. Therefore, Dr. Martinov is working to create Sox2-targeting engineered T cells for patients. After isolating Sox2-reactive T cells from healthy donors, she was able to identify the genetic recipe for the receptors. Now, she’s engineering them into new T cells to determine if they’ll be capable of killing myeloma cells in a humanized mouse model. Additionally, through deep analysis of the T cells and tumor cells she aims to identify factors that drive the success or failure of this anti-Sox2 T cell therapy and use this insight to refine future T cell engineering strategies. Collectively, her experiments will reveal whether Sox2 is a safe and effective T cell target in multiple myeloma and inform the development of future therapies.

Projects and Grants

Sox2-Targeted T Cell Immunotherapy in Multiple Myeloma

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center | Multiple Myeloma | 2021 | Philip Greenberg, MD

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