At the heart of most cancer immunotherapies are specific molecular interactions between the principle cancer cell killers, T cells, and the tumor-associated peptide antigens that are presented within the tumor environment.
I will discuss 2 separate projects relevant to understanding and harnessing these interactions. The first is a microchip/nanotech based single cell tool that is used for the analysis of tumor tissues and peripheral blood. The assay provides a high throughput approach for identifying the tumor antigens and the T cell receptor genes that specifically bind to those antigens. The approach is being developed to inform the design of personalized cancer immunotherapies for a variety of cancers. The second project I will discuss is related to certain patients who have tumors that, when exposed to certain molecular signals from the T cells, can evolve to develop drug resistance. I will discuss statistical physics approaches towards understanding how that resistance process evolves. Those approaches yield specific, testable predictions for molecular interventions that can halt resistance development.