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Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Seed Grant: Imaging changes in immune surveillance by natural killer (NK) cells during the progression of MYC oncogene-driven lymphomas

Seed Grants
Awarded in 2018

Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 9 - 2018

Dean Felsher, Medicine (Oncology) and Pathology
Sam Gambhir, Radiology

Our goal is to be able to image by PET scan, for the first time, Natural Killer (NK) cell-mediated immune elimination of cancer cells in response to drugs that target oncogenes. Our project will have broad translational relevance to developing new targeted therapeutics that restore immune response against cancer. This is a new and interdisciplinary collaboration and project that brings together cancer immunology, molecular imaging, and mathematical modeling. The Felsher Laboratory has obtained exciting new results that suggest that oncogenes globally regulate the immune response to cancer. Recently, we found that oncogenes regulate the ability of natural killer cells to develop, activate, and respond to a cancer. These results suggest that drugs that inactivate some oncogenes will restore an immune response against cancer cells. The Gambhir Laboratory has been developing an exciting new probe for Natural Killer cells using PET scans. This method could be used potentially to measure both in animal models and in human patients Natural Killer cells’ response to a cancer. Together, we propose to validate this new PET probe and to show that we can use this to measure the clinical response of Natural Killer cells to attack cancer cells in response to oncogene inactivation. Our results will have clinical implications for the treatment of cancer, develop a new approach to measure efficacy of drugs against cancer, and we provide new data for new NIH funding. Importantly, our new collaboration also in joining together several young faculty who are Instructors in Oncology and Radiology and will forge a new team of investigators to study this important scientific question.