Meenakshi Hegde, MD
Project: Adoptive Immunotherapy Targeting Antigen Escape Variants in Osteosarcoma
Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer affecting approximately 400 children and adolescents in the United States each year. Current treatment for this cancer is usually extensive surgery followed by chemotherapy. Approximately 40% of patients with osteosarcoma experience metastatic (cancer that has spread) or recurrent (cancer that has returned) disease, leading to decreased survival. New, more targeted approaches to treatment are needed to improve outcomes for patients with this cancer.
Meenakshi Hegde, MD is a CureSearch Young Investigator conducting research at Baylor College of Medicine to determine if the body’s immune system, specifically T-cells, can be engineered to recognize and kill osteosarcoma cancer cells. The job of the body’s immune system is to fight off disease. Thus, when an abnormal, or mutated, cell is created, the body should recognize it as different from the rest and eliminate it based on markers on the cancer cell surface that differentiate it from the normal cells of the body. Dr. Hegde is engineering T-cells that are designed to target two proteins (tanCAR T-cells) most commonly expressed in osteosarcoma, with the goal of decreasing the risk of tumor recurrence. If successful, Dr. Hegde’s work will pave the way for the creation of new immunotherapies for recurrent/metastatic osteosarcoma.
As of the conclusion of her CureSearch-funded project, Dr. Hegde has developed resources to progress immunotherapy in osteosarcoma:
- 3 HER2/GD2 bispecific tanCAR Ts generated
- 3 tanCAR T-cell lines assessed for efficacy in vitro
- 2 metastatic osteosarcoma models established