Damon Runyon Researchers

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Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD

Dr. Maus is engineering the body's own immune T cells to fight deadly brain tumors like glioblastoma. However, in studies of patients with brain tumors, she has found that tumor cells can escape the engineered T cells. She is now redesigning T cells so that they block escape routes used by the tumors. She expects that the engineered cells will be more powerful and may become a new effective treatment for brain tumors. The engineered CAR T cells are designed to target cells displaying multiple abnormal proteins (antigens) made from cancer-causing oncogenes; theywill act as drug carriers to address the specific hurdles of antigen heterogeneity and penetrating the blood brain barrier. She is testing these "living drugs" in vitro and in mouse models with the goal of ultimately advancing these studies to human clinical trials. Furthermore, if this system works for brain tumors, it has the potential to be applied as a therapy for other forms of cancer as well.

Project title: "Next-generation CAR T cells for EGFRvIII-positive glioblastoma"
Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital
Award Program: Innovator
Cancer Type: Brain
Research Area: Immunotherapy