student profile: Miss Christina Viray


Thesis work

Thesis title: Elucidating the molecular mechanisms of leukocytes in the context of mechanobiology

Supervisors: Hala ZREIQAT

Thesis abstract:

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Current treatments for cancer are unable to completely cure the disease and pose high health risks for patients. As an alternative or complementary treatment to avoid such problems, cancer patients can undergo immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that involves harnessing the body’s native immune system mechanisms – such as T cells – to combat against the disease. T cells carry out cell-mediated immune responses and must be motile to search for antigen-presenting cells and tumour cells. T cell migration is regulated by biochemical, mechanical, and physical cues within their microenvironment to direct them to specific sites to carry out their roles. The influence of these cues on T cell migration is a field that is largely unexplored and is a promising therapeutic target.

This project involves the development of a synthetic 3D hydrogel in which the material properties can be independently altered. The material will be used as a platform to identify aspects of T cell migration at a molecular level as influenced by physical and mechanical properties within the microenvironment, using mechanobiology-related analytical techniques and advanced microscopy. A deeper, systematic understanding of T cell migration will lead to the development of improved cancer therapies.

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