Understanding the Effect of IL-15 on Tumor Microenvironment to Enhance Cell-Based Therapies for Pediatric Solid Tumors
Our laboratory is interested in curing children with solid tumors, such as muscle or bone sarcomas. To do this, we devise ways in which to arm the immune system to fight cancer, called immunotherapy. We have found that the environment around these tumors, called the tumor microenvironment, has large effects on how well immunotherapy works. One method to improve immunotherapy is to administer proteins called cytokines to patients. We know from previous work that cytokines work favorably in activating immune cells to kill cancer cells more effectively. However, in solid tumors, we also need to know how these cytokines affect the tumor microenvironment. Our concern is that, although these cytokines can activate immune cells, they may also activate the tumor microenvironment and therefore be of no overall benefit to the patient in terms of fighting their cancer.
Anna’s project involves studying the effects of several cytokines on cells of the tumor microenvironment. Our lab has expertise in generation of tumor microenvironment cells and have developed several tools through which to study them. Overall, these investigations will be important as we will hopefully find cytokines that help improve immunotherapy as well as weaken the tumor microenvironment, a potent combination that should improve outcomes in patients.
Mentored by Dr. Robin Parihar
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX