Disease is a universal problem, and treatments remain unavailing across the globe. Creating treatment options that are increasingly effective and tolerable has the potential to better the lives of everyone. Developing therapies that are accessible to all remains another challenge.
The vaccine that I seek to develop (if it reaches the commercial stages) would likely be much more cost-effective than many of the current immunotherapies, giving it the potential to reach many individuals across the globe. Mainstream immunotherapies include adoptive T-cell therapy and checkpoint blockade inhibitors, which both entail the ex-vivo manipulation (and reintroduction) of a patient’s immune cells to fight disease. While these therapies have shown promise, they can be very expensive because they are customized for each patient. By creating a cancer vaccine that recruits the immune system to fight disease, my design evades this need for personalization, while offering many of the same advantages. Thus, my design has the potential to be significantly more affordable, and treat a wider range of individuals.
Experience: Cancer Research UK-AACR Joint Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in Oncology
Date: August 2019-December 2019
Location: October 15-17, 2019
For the global component of the GCS experience I attended the Cancer Research UK-AACR Joint Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in Oncology in London in October of 2019. During the conference, I learned about many different aspects of cancer research to which I had not previously been exposed. This gave me a better background in oncology (think cancer research in the era of big data), the limitations of many cancer therapies, and how my project uniquely addresses some of these issues. I spoke with several different leaders in the field, including professors at Harvard and MIT, and members of industry. It was interesting to hear these individuals’ perspectives of healthcare–differences in the U.S. and the U.K. for instance. This made me think, considering personalized medicine was such a hot topic in the U.S. for quite some time (and many mainstream immunotherapies such as adoptive T-cell therapy are personalized), and made me appreciate the benefits of the cancer vaccine I am developing.
Unfortunately, due to my decision not to go abroad and my participation in the Pratt Fellows Program, I have been unable to participate in a longer-term international experience.