Glioblastoma is the most common type of primary brain tumor in adults—approximately 13,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States—and it’s associated with frequent resistance to therapy and a median survival of less than 15 months. Current treatment consists of surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but recurrence commonly occurs within a year. Therefore, is an urgent need for more effective therapies for glioblastoma patients, and Dr. Martina Molgora is exploring whether immunotherapy might help.
Recently, her group discovered that a protein named platelet-derived growth factor D (PDGFD)—which is produced by several cell types, including cancer cells—activates the immune system. In particular, PDGFD promotes tumor-killing activity in immune cells called natural killer cells. Molgora aims to characterize the role of PDGFD in natural killer cell activation and tumor control in glioblastoma. Additionally, she will characterize how PDGFD-targeting therapies influence the immune response in combination with therapies that target other immune cells. Overall, this work may identify novel targets and provide a foundation for the development of novel therapies based on the immune recognition of PDGFD and natural killer cell immune surveillance.
Projects and Grants
Impact of Natural Killer cell recognition of growth factors on tumor immune surveillance
Washington University School of Medicine | Brain Cancer | 2020 | Marco Colonna, M.D.
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