Kyle Payne, PhD

Invasive ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer in the world, as less than 30% of these patients remain alive after 5 years. Treatment options are limited for these women, as they usually do not respond well to a new type of therapy that uses the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. This is despite the fact that ovarian cancer does often have high numbers of T cells – an immune cell that has an ability to kill cancer cells. Therefore, identifying ways to improve the T cell’s ability to kill ovarian cancer cells will likely improve the outcome of these women. To this end, we have discovered a mutation in a molecule found in ovarian cancer cells that is associated with an improved outcome. Importantly, we have found the mutated version of this molecule is linked with increased T cell activity in ovarian cancer. Therefore, our study is designed to understand the connection between this molecule and immune cell activity. Our work will explain a new way that T cells in ovarian cancer can be stimulated to kill cancer cells and will improve our understanding of how immune activity is orchestrated in this disease. We expect that the completion of this work will drive the development of drugs that can target this molecule in cancer cells to improve responsiveness to ‘immune therapies’ and to significantly improve the outcome of women with ovarian cancer.

Location: Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - NC
Proposal: Elucidation of Tumor Cell-Intrinsic Mitochondrial Stress Signaling as a Novel Regulator of Antitumor Immunity
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