Grants - Kansas - Designated Grants - 2020

Mary Markiewicz, Ph.D.

Funded in partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club

The immune system can destroy cancer cells. This is being taken advantage of in cancer therapy, with scientists trying to find ways to activate the immune system to better kill cancer cells. One therapy involves the infusion of immune cells named natural killer (NK) cells. This therapy works well for some types of cancers. However, there has been limited success with this therapy against most tumors. The ultimate goal of our research is to increase the ability of this therapy to work against more cancers. One method proposed for making NK cells better at killing cancer cells is treating the cells with activating signals that are termed IL-12, IL-15, and IL-18. We show that this makes the NK cells express proteins that affects the ability of the cells to kill cancer cells. This leads us to think that IL-12,15, and18 treatment alters NK cells in a way that can be good for the treatment of some, but bad for other, types of cancer. This is of high concern because IL-12,15,18 treatment is proposed as a way to enhance NK cell treatment of cancers and is being tested in patients. Therefore, it is critical we determine how IL-12,15,18-treated NK cells affect the growth of different types of cancer. Here we propose to determine how IL-12,15,18-treatment, and the proteins this treatment induces on NK cells, alters the ability of NK cells to kill cancer in mouse models.