Robert Manguso, PhD

Funded by the McAdam Family

CAR T cell therapy is an exciting new cancer therapy where immune cells from a patient, called T cells, are reprogrammed outside the body to seek out and kill tumor cells. While this approach has been highly effective for some types of cancer such as lymphoma and leukemia, it has not yet been effective for solid tumors such as ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer. One reason for this failure is that many tumor cells have found ways to hide from the engineered immune cells and avoid being killed. We call the genes that enable tumors to hide “immune evasion genes.” Our lab has identified one of the key immune evasion genes, called NKG2A-HLA-E. We believe that blocking this gene could make tumor cells more visible to CAR T cells and greatly increase their cancer killing abilities. This would result in more effective therapies for patients that could lead to longer survival. Additionally, our lab has also developed new ways to identify all the evasion genes used by tumors to hide from CAR T cells. This exciting new approach could reveal several additional genes that tumors use to escape CAR T cells, and we identify these genes and attempt to block them to determine if this also improves the ability of CAR T cells to kill tumors. This work could help to identify the ways tumors escape from the immune system and could provide researchers and clinicians with the information required to build more effective cancer therapies using the immune system.

Location: The General Hospital Corporation d/b/a Massachusetts General Hospital - Boston
Proposal: Overcoming intrinsic resistance to CAR T cell therapy in solid tumors using in vivo genetic screens
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