SURF

Ashley Yang

Investigation of Therapeutic Efficacy of EGFRvIII-targeting CAR-NK cells against Glioblastoma in vitro and in vivo

Glioblastoma (GB) is the most common and aggressive brain tumor in adults, composed of a microenvironment that suppresses the defense function of T-cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells. Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have recently become a robust form of adoptive cell therapy, also known as cellular immunotherapy. Studies on GB treatment using CAR-NK cells have identified epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRvIII) as a target which distinguishes GB cells from healthy brain cells. Currently, there is a lack of CAR-NK cell mouse models. My project will seek to fill the gaps by developing EGFRvIII-targeting CAR-NK cells to treat glioblastoma and to test whether CAR-NK cells have a better cytotoxic effect on killing tumor cells in vitro and solid tumors in vivo. The data from the mouse models will allow us to investigate the clinical aspect more closely and will show whether CAR-NK cells traffic to the tumor, persist in the tumor microenvironment, and can effectively eradicate the tumor. Understanding the mechanisms of CAR-NK cell therapy will hopefully provide more insight as to broadening the therapeutic use of these natural cytotoxic cells of the innate immune system.

Message to Sponsor

This SURF fellowship has been an immensely rewarding experience. Although the summer research experience was slightly different than what I expected, I was able to understand the process of reshaping project plans. Since I work in molecular biology, most of my research in the past heavily involves wet lab and hands on experiment work. This summer, however, I was able to solidify my background foundation and gain confidence in reading scientific literature. The reading skills that I gained from this experience have not only solidified my interests in Immunology, but has also given me a new skill set that can and will be applicable in any future career path. This experience has confirmed my interest in possibly pursuing a MD/PhD, where I can reinforce my clinical education with academia research.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Public Health
  • Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills Independent
  • Mentor: David Raulet