Elizabeth Juarez Diaz

MSTP in PhD Training

Program: Immunology

Current advisor: Tanner M. Johanns, MD, PhD

Undergraduate university: St. Catherine University, 2018

Enrollment year: 2020

Research summary
NK cell therapy for glioblastoma

Natural killer (NK) cells are part of the innate immune system that respond to tumor as a first line defense. These cells are known to kill cells that downregulate MHC class 1. These cells are also known to work with cells of the adaptive immune system such as T cells. Glioblastoma is known to be immunosuppressive and evade the immune system through multiple mechanisms. One such mechanism of immune evasion is downregulation of MHC class 1. Through this mechanism we hypothesized that NK cells would be a great candidate for immunotherapy against human glioma cells. Human derived NK cells were differentiated and primed into memory like NK cells through high dose IL-12, IL-15, and IL-18 cytokines, and then co-cultured with human GBM lines. After an 18 hour co-culture there was observable flow cytometry GBM cell death of lines U87 and U251. Cell death of tumor lines was also observed with Bioluminescence assays. Memory like NK cells killed control K562, and experimental U87 and U251 cell lines more than Low dose (IL-15) NK cells. Suggesting that Memory like NK cells primed in high cytokine levels of IL-12, IL-15, and IL-18 are better positioned to kill GBM cell lines.

Graduate publications