Grants - V Scholar Grants - ONTARIO - 2021

Anastasia Tikhonova, PhD

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight and destroy cancer cellsDespite its success in treating a number of cancers, immunotherapy has had a limited impact on the treatment of blood cancers, known as leukemia. While there are many reasons for this, a primary reason is the current lack of understanding of how the cells of the immune system interact with leukemia cells. Present knowledge of the types of immune cells that live in the bone marrow and their behavior at various stages of leukemia are almost entirely lacking. To address this, we will perform a widespread analysis of immune cell composition and function during leukemia disease progression. We will use cutting-edge technology to understand the biological mechanisms that become altered during leukemia, which may cause immune cells to promote the cancer’s initiation and relapse. These studies would enable the identification of “immune signatures” associated with different stages of cancer developmentThe findings will lay the groundwork for our understanding of the bone marrow immune landscape in the context of the human disease. We envision that these studies will fundamentally lead to new treatment strategies for this devastating cancer and thereby improve patient outcomes.