BME PhD Prospectus Defense – Deboki Chakravarti

10:00 am on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
44 Cummington Mall, Room 203
Title: “Developing synthetic biology platforms to increase the flexibility and power of adoptive T-cell therapy”

Committee Members:
Dr. Wilson Wong (Advisor, Chair)
Dr. James Collins
Dr. Richard Junghans
Dr. Ahmad Khalil

Adoptive T-cell therapy uses a patient’s own immune cells to target and kill cancer cells. While forms of this therapy that use genetically modified T-cells to express tumor-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have proven to be effective in clinical trials, it has been fatal in some patients due to “on-target, off-tumor” responses. In addition, the tumor microenvironment employs many strategies to reduce T-cell activity, limiting the efficacy of T-cells to kill cancer cells. I will use tools developed in synthetic biology to make adoptive T-cell therapy tunable to a patient’s needs and stronger against the tumor microenvironment. I will design and construct genetic circuits that allow for doctors to assess a patient’s response and make changes to the therapy accordingly, and using techniques for multiplexed activation of genes, I will develop a strategy to activate multiple genes and test for combinations that aid T-cells in penetrating the tumor.