Hutch News Stories

Dr. Reema Jain developing methods to isolate, manipulate blood stem cells for T-cell therapy

Funding from Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center supports postdoc’s work
Dr. Reema Jain
Dr. Reema Jain Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Reema Jain’s research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center focuses on developing new methods that could improve an emerging form of cancer immunotherapy called CAR T-cell therapy, in which patients’ immune cells are genetically engineered to eliminate their cancers.

A challenge with CAR T-cell therapy is that the engineered cells tend to die out over time, which puts patients at risk for relapse.

Jain, a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jarrod Dudakov, has been awarded two years of salary and research support from the Fred Hutch Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center to develop new methods that could make it possible to safely and efficiently genetically engineer CARs into self-renewing blood stem cells, instead of patients’ mature T cells. In theory, this would supply the patient with a perpetual supply of new CAR T cells to continue killing off newly emerging cancer cells.

The methods she is developing make use of recent discoveries by her mentors Dudakov and Hans-Peter Kiem, whose teams found that key blood stem cells are regulated by a sex hormone called luteinizing hormone. Jain is working on ways to identify these blood stem cells by detecting their receptor for LH, and then isolate them for genetic engineering with a CAR. She is also developing a drug targeted at the LH receptor; the goal is to safely eliminate existing, non-engineered blood stem cells so the engineered ones have space to grow.

She anticipates her methods would also have applications in other types of therapies, including other types of gene therapy, as well as bone marrow transplant.

Read more about Fred Hutch achievements and accolades.

Susan Keown was a staff editor and writer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center from 2014-2022 who has written about health and research topics for a variety of research institutions. Find her on Twitter @sejkeown.

Related News

All news
Learning more from T-cell therapy trials Fred Hutch Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center awards grants to Drs. Brian Till, Cameron Turtle March 28, 2018
How the immune system’s key organ regenerates itself Watch: Hutch researcher discusses harnessing the thymus’s knack for self-repair to boost immune function and help patients January 12, 2018
Tiny tech reprograms immune cells to fight cancer Nanoparticles turn immune cells into leukemia-fighting powerhouses while they’re still inside the body April 17, 2017

Help Us Eliminate Cancer

Every dollar counts. Please support lifesaving research today.

Last Modified, September 21, 2021