Stephanie Kristin Dougan, Ph.D., Tech Impact Award Grantee Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Area of Research: Melanoma

Cancer cells can be recognized by the immune system via fragments of proteins that they present on their surface in the context of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) system. These peptide-MHC (pMHC) structures allow cancer-specific T cells to kill tumor cells, while other T cells do not. Dr. Dougan, in collaboration Dr. Michael Birnbaum, has developed a new technology whereby they have coated a virus in pMHC complexes, thereby enabling the virus to infect only cancer-specific T cells. This enables them to precisely deliver immunomodulatory cargo to only cancer-specific T cells while sparing bystander T cells. They have shown this technology works in T cells outside the body and are now poised to perform proof-of-concept studies in animals to demonstrate the efficiency and selectivity of these pMHC viruses.

Ultimately, Dougan and her colleagues anticipate that pMHC virus technology will allow for a new generation of readily administered, safe, and effective antigen-specific immunotherapies to unlock new cancer treatments.

Projects and Grants

pMHC Viruses For In Vivo Genetic Modification of Tumor-Specific CD8 T Cells

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute | Melanoma | 2020

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