Dr. Julian Lum, distinguished scientist with the BC Cancer Research Institute and associate professor, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biology with the University of Victoria, has been awarded $1.1 million from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research Fall 2023 Project Grant competition for his research on immune suppression in ovarian cancer. 

Immunotherapy is a life-saving alternative way to treat cancer. One type of treatment called chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy has produced long-lasting responses in late-stage blood cancers. 

However, ovarian cancers currently resist immunotherapy. Previous research has shown that the cancer cells interfere with the nutrition that the immune cells need to function. 

“We need to know what nutrients to consider for CAR-T cell engineering,” said Dr. Lum. "So far, this remains a black box.”

In this project, Dr. Lum and his team will map out the nutrients that block the critical cancer-fighting properties of CAR-T cells using a specialized technology called 13C metabolite tracing. What they learn will be an essential step toward creating a translation path that will allow oncologists to use CAR-T cells to more effectively treat patients with ovarian cancer.  

“It's an exciting proposition,” added Dr. Lum. “We now have an opportunity to use breakthrough genetic engineering technology to make specific immune cells more ‘nutritionally fit’ and rigorous in destroying tumours.”

This article has been repurposed, with permission, from the University of Victoria. Read the original version here.

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