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Michael Berger, PhD

Michael Berger, PhD

Grant Status

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Grant Type
Project Grant

Project Title
Generating Metabolically Superior T Cells as Novel Immunotherapy to Treat Solid Tumors

Tumor Types

Research Topics
Animal Modes of Cancer, Bone Cancers, Brain Cancer, Cancer Metastasis, Colorectal Cancer, Human Subjects, Immunology and Immunotherapy, Men's Cancers, Metabolism and Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Pediatric Cancer, Renal Cancer, Skin Cancer, Women's Cancers

Named Grant:

The Dr. Peter J. Stambrook Award in Cancer Medicine

About the Investigator:

Dr. Berger has had a long-term interest in T cell immunity and metabolism, and how we can exploit these
mechanisms to improve cancer therapy. He began his academic career at Tel Aviv University, where he received his BA in biology, before moving to The Hebrew University, where he earned his MSc and PhD degrees. Supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), he spent 5 years in the laboratory of the 2011 Nobel Laureate, Prof. Bruce Beutler, at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. Although he was subsequently offered a position at Scripps, he decided to return to Israel where he is now a Senior Lecturer in The Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research at The Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem.

About the Research:

The goal of this project is to develop the next generation of engineered T cells for use in Adoptive Cell Transfer (ACT) therapy for solid tumors. Since solid tumor malignancies have high rates of mortality and are the most prevalent type of tumors, novel therapeutic modalities are needed. ACT therapy has the potential to treat various tumors, which are currently incurable, but a major obstacle for ACT in solid tumors is the metabolic exhaustion of T cells functioning in a glucose-deficient microenvironment.

Dr. Berger and his team propose to develop a new technology that will allow the generation of metabolically superior T cells that can kill tumor cells. They will do this by providing T cells with the means to use trehalose, another type of sugar molecule, as a carbon source instead of glucose, thus allowing them to maintain their effector functions.

The Berger lab will test the therapeutic potential of these engineered T cells in mouse models of various solid tumors. It is their hope that this simple improvement in metabolism will contribute to the transition of T cell therapy from a promising treatment to an effective one.


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