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Center for Cancer Research
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Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhDAssistant Professor of MedicineHarvard Medical SchoolMass General Cancer Center
Director of Cellular ImmunotherapyMass General Cancer Center
Using the immune system as a cancer treatment has the potential to induce long-term, durable remissions, and perhaps even cures for some patients. The T cells of the immune system are able to specifically kill the target cells they recognize. T cells are also able to persist in the body for many years, and form immune ‘memory,’ which enables the possibility of long-term protection. The Maus laboratory is interested in using genetic engineering techniques to re-direct T cells to find and kill tumor cells while sparing healthy tissues. We aim to: develop new ways to design molecular receptors to target T cells to liquid and solid tumors; use T cells as delivery vehicles for other drugs, and use drugs to help T cells work against tumors; and understand how T cells can work as “living drugs” to treat patients with cancer.
Marcela Maus, MD, PhD
From left to right: Matthew Frigault, Maria Ormhoj, Irene Scarfo and Angela Boroughs
Matthew Frigault and Marcela Maus
From left to right: Matthew Frigault, Ana Castano, Felipe Bedoya, Marcela Maus, Maria Ormhoj, Selena Lorrey, Irene Scarfo, and Angela Boroughs
*PhD Candidate **MD Candidate
Immune therapies that engage T cells have the potential to induce long-term durable remissions of cancer. In hematologic malignancies, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant can be curative in part due to T-cell mediated anti-tumor immunity; in solid tumors, checkpoint blockade with anti-CTLA-4 or anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibodies can mediate long-term responses by releasing T cells from tightly controlled peripheral tolerance. Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are synthetic molecules designed to re-direct T cells to specific antigens. Re-directing T cells with CARs is an alternative method of overcoming tolerance and has shown great promise in the clinical setting for B cell malignancies such as adult and pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This therapy is so effective in ALL that based on relatively small numbers of patients, multiple academic centers and their industry partners have received Breakthrough Designation from the FDA to commercialize CAR T cell products. However, successful application of this form of therapy to other cancers is likely to require refinements in the molecular and clinical technologies.
The goal of the Maus lab is to design and evaluate next generation genetically-modified (CAR) T cells as immunotherapy in patients with cancer.
Specifically, next generation T cells that the Maus lab intends to develop includes CAR-T cells that:
The Mass General Cellular Immunotherapy Program directed by Dr. Maus aims to generate a pipeline of genetically engineered CAR T cells to use as “living drugs” in patients with cancer. The program is composed of a “discovery” arm, “manufacturing” and “translational” arms to be able to test genetically-modified T cells in human subjects, and a “clinical/correlative” sciences arm to examine the engraftment, persistence, and bioactivity of T cell products infused into patients. Laboratory members are encouraged to work on a bench->bedside project as well as a bedside->bench project with samples derived from human patients participating in clinical trials of immunotherapy.
O’Rourke, D.M. Nasrallah, M.P., Desai, A., Melenhorst, J.J., Mansfield, K., Morrissette, J.J.D., Martinez-Lage, M., Brem, S., Maloney, E., Shen, A., Isaacs, R., Mohan, S., Plesa, G., Lacey, S.F., Navenot, J-M., Zheng, Z., Levine, B.L., Okada, H., June, C.H., Brogdon, J.L., Maus, M.V. A single dose of peripherally-infused EGFRvIII-directed CAR T cells mediates antigen loss and induces adaptive resistance in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. Sci Transl Med. 2017 Jul 19;9(399).
Ormhoj, M., Bedoya, F., Frigault, M.J., Maus, M.V. CARs in the lead against multiple myeloma. Current Hematologic Malignancy Reports. April 2017; 40(3): 104-107.
Scarfo, I., Maus, M.V. Current approaches to increase CAR T cell potency in solid tumors: targeting the tumor microenvironment. J Immunother. March 21, 2017.
Bedoya, F., Frigault, MJ, Maus, M.V. The flipside of the power of engineered T cells: observed and potential toxicities of genetically modified T cells as therapy. Mol Ther. 2017, Feb 1; 25(2):314-320.
Frigault MJ, Maus MV. Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells strike back. International Immunology. 2016 Jul;28(7):355-63.
Garfall AL, Maus MV, Hwang WT, Lacey SF, Mahnke YD, Melenhorst JJ, Zheng Z, Vogl DT, Cohen AD, Weiss BM, Dengel K, Kerr ND, Bagg A, Levine BL, June CH, Stadtmauer EA. Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells against CD19 for Multiple Myeloma. N Engl J Med. 2015 Sep 10;373(11):1040-7.
Johnson LA, Scholler J, Ohkuri T, Kosaka A, Patel PR, McGettigan SE, Nace AK, Dentchev T, Thekkat P, Loew A, Boesteanu AC, Cogdill AP, Chen T, Fraietta JA,Kloss CC, Posey AD Jr, Engels B, Singh R, Ezell T, Idamakanti N, Ramones MH, Li N, Zhou L, Plesa G, Seykora JT, Okada H, June CH, Brogdon JL, Maus MV. Rational development and characterization of humanized anti-EGFR variant III chimeric antigen receptor T cells for glioblastoma. Sci Transl Med. 2015 Feb 18;7(275): 275ra22.
Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD, Director of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program at the Mass General Cancer Center, was awarded a 2017 Stand Up to Cancer Innovative Research Grant for her work on Potentiating Novel Engineered Cellular Therapies for Solid Tumors.
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