Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Elina Wells Rose Hills

Using Listeria Monocytogenes to Change the Suppressive State of the Tumor Microenvironment to a Proinflammatory State

Immunosurveillance is the immune system’s ability to detect foreign pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells in the body. Many cancers evade immunosurveillance, through the use of mechanisms, which allow them to exist and spread undetected. Checkpoint blockade therapy – an immunotherapy treatment method in part developed at Berkeley – counters the “breaks” of immunosuppressive cells, imposed on inflammatory immune cells within the tumor microenvironment. Many current immunotherapies use Listeria monocytogenes as a way to induce immune cells that were previously exhausted to regain their effector phenotype and control cancer. However, about half of the patients fail to respond to treatment. This may be because immunosuppressive cells within the tumor microenvironment dampen any immune response leading to unresponsive inflammatory cells. I propose that changing the injection method from intravenous (IV) to intratumoral (IT) injection will counter these shortcomings because an immune response will generate directly within the tumor. My research project will use IT injection into both immunogenic and non-immunogenic tumors in a mouse model to address the following questions: Does IT injection combat the challenges presented by IV injection and allow for a greater anti-tumor response, and how can it be optimized?

Message To Sponsor

I would like to thank the Rose Hills Foundation for providing me with the opportunity to spend my summer researching in Berkeley. Thanks to their contribution, I was able to utilize my last summer in college to grow my understanding of cancer immunotherapy and develop my laboratory skills. Now I am able to begin my final year with more confidence in myself as a researcher and I feel more prepared than ever to begin planning my post-college endeavors. Thank you, Rose Hills Foundation, for making this truly wonderful experience possible!
Profile image of Elina Wells
Major: Integrative Human Biology
Mentor: Michel DuPage
Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
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