Enhancing the Viability, Function, and Safety, of Genetically-Enhanced NK Cells Within the Solid Tumor Microenvironment With IL-15 and a Suicide Gene
Our laboratory focuses on ways to harness the power of the body's own immune system to fight cancer. We have created a way to enhance the activity of a cell of the immune system called a Natural Killer cell (or NK cell). These enhanced NK cells can travel to sites of cancer in the body and specifically kill cells inside of a tumor that help it grow. In order to keep the enhanced NK cells alive, doctors need to give patients concentrated doses of hormones usually made by the immune system. These hormones (called cytokines) can often have serious side effects when given to patients because they can travel all around the body and have unwanted effects on cells other than the immune system.
We would like to test a new method that we've generated in our laboratory to keep the enhanced NK cells alive by having them secrete their own cytokines locally at the site of tumors. In this way, we can avoid the serious side effects of cytokines traveling all around the body. If our new method works, it could give a powerful boost to the immune system without serious side effects.