Matthew completed his BSc and MSc in Applied Health Sciences at Brock University (St. Catharines, Ontario), and PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario). Most recently Matthew completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Queen’s University in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Ormiston, studying the roles of Natural Killer cells in mediating the progression of pulmonary arterial hypertension in mouse and rat models of the disease.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, affecting about 4 in 100,000 adult Canadians. Even with the best treatment available, prognosis for those suffering from GBM is poor, and typically median survival time among GBM patients is approximately 15 months, and 5-year survival is less than 10%. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) Natural Killer (NK) cells are immune cells which have been engineered to recognize cells expressing a specified target antigen and attack them. Although CAR-T cells have been used successfully to treat certain blood cancers they have significant on-target off-tumour side effects, and will attack all cells expressing the target antigen, whether healthy or cancerous. Conversely, NK cells express a multitude of activating and inhibitory receptors which allow them to discriminate between healthy and cancerous cells. As such, CAR-NK cells have similar tumour killing ability as CAR-T cells but are much less toxic to healthy non-tumour cells. Matthew’s project will leverage the Ashkar lab’s expertise in autologous NK cell immunotherapy to design and generate CAR-NK cells to attack GBM cells.
Financial support provided by a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship.