Using the immune system as a cancer treatment has the potential to induce long-term, durable remissions, and perhaps even cures for some patients. The T cells of the immune system are able to specifically kill the target cells they recognize. T cells are also able to persist in the body for many years, and form immune ‘memory,’ which enables the possibility of long-term protection. The Maus laboratory is interested in using genetic engineering techniques to re-direct T cells to find and kill tumor cells while sparing healthy tissues. We aim to develop new ways to design molecular receptors to target T cells to liquid and solid tumors, to use T cells as delivery vehicles for other drugs or use drugs to help T cells work against tumors, and to understand how T cells can work as a “living drugs” to treat patients with cancer.
The goal of my lab is to design and evaluate next generation genetically-modified (CAR) T cells as immunotherapy in patients with cancer. We will test the modified T cells in vitro, in small animal models, and if there is evidence that the treatment is promising, in patients who are eligible and wish to participate in clinical trials. The MGH Cellular Immunotherapy Program directed by Dr. Maus aims to translate new findings in the field of immunology and cell therapies from the laboratory to treat patients with cancer, and to learn from the clinic by analyzing immune biomarkers and understanding the mechanisms of how immunotherapy works, the toxicities it can cause, and the mechanisms of relapse if they occur . The Cellular Immunotherapy Program includes my laboratory and also core laboratories and translational units that facilitate bridging the lab and the clinic.