2023 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Bioengineering
Mentor: Rogelio Hernández-López (Bioengineering and Genetics)

“Engineering Next-Generation Breast Cancer Cell Therapies: Targeting HER2 Heterogeneity”

Breast cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers in women in the world. Despite the great advances in the detection and treatment of breast cancers, certain forms of breast cancer remain difficult to treat. The Hernandez-Lopez lab is proposing to use our own immune cells to treat difficult cases of breast cancer. T cells can be isolated, modified, and injected back into the body, so that they are programmed to find and kill tumors. Their approach is to modify T cells to specifically recognize and kill breast tumor cells. Gloria is engineering T cells to recognize specific molecular signals of cancer, in this case the amount of a protein (HER2), and to execute potent killing responses. With her mentor, Gloria will test their engineered cells against a variety of models of cancer in cell culture. If successful, their approach will lay the foundation for further animal studies, potentially suggesting new approaches that down the road could have a major impact on our ability to effectively and safely treat some of the most difficult forms of breast cancer and will provide new approaches to other challenging solid cancers.