Advances in T cell engineering have provided revolutionary breakthroughs in treating certain types of cancer, especially leukemia and lymphoma. Perhaps the most remarkable are CAR T cells, which involves taking a patient’s T cells and equipping them with a CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) that enables them to more efficiently target and eliminate cancer cells. To help even more patients, Dr. Avishai Shemesh wants to adapt this CAR technology to other immune cells, specifically Natural killer (NK) cells which are already capable of killing cancer cells. One limitation of NK cells, regarding anti-tumor response, is poor expansion because they can’t promote their own proliferation. In other words, NK cells can’t expand their numbers enough to mount a sufficiently strong response against entire tumors. Therefore, Dr. Shemesh’s goal is to develop a CAR for NK cells that enables them to achieve self-proliferation after they recognize tumor cells so they can carry out stronger attacks. Through this mechanisms, he aims to advance a new immunotherapy approach that could eventually help patients in the clinic.
Projects and Grants
Engineering CAR NK cells for antigen-dependent autocrine expansion
University of California, San Francisco | All Cancers | 2018 | Lewis L. Lanier, Ph.D.
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