Mansfield University Biology Professor and Student Publish Article Describing Challenges in Cancer Immunotherapy

MANSFIELD, PA – The research of Mansfield University Biology Professor Dr. Kristen Long and senior cell and molecular biology student David DeGaramo, has been published in a leading Immunology journal. The pair worked with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to understand why the effectiveness of new T cell therapy is so limited in solid tumors. Their findings were published in a review article entitled, “CAR T Cell Therapy of Non-Hematopoietic Malignancies: Detours on the Road to Clinical Success” in Frontiers in Immunology, which is the fifth most cited Immunology journal in the world.

T cells, a type of immune cells found in the blood, play an important role in recognizing and eliminating healthy cells that have become cancerous. As cancer progresses, however, cancer cells learn to evade these T cells. Fortunately, a new recently FDA approved therapy, Kymriah, retrains a patient’s own T cells to detect and eliminate cancer cells. Kymriah is specifically used as a treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, types of cancer characterized by liquid (blood) tumors. While this therapy is very effective against these liquid tumors, the therapy is less successful against solid tumors.

The article focuses on the progress of applying this specific type of cancer therapy, referred to as CAR T cell therapy, to solid tumors and the obstacles encountered in trying to do so.

DeGaramo, from Wyalusing, Pa. explains, “These obstacles include factors that one, inhibit diffusion of the therapy, such as high pressure in the surrounding environment, fibrotic tissue, and lack of blood vessels, two, the immunosuppressive elements of the tumor microenvironment, and three, the issues raised by the nutrient deficiency of the area surrounding the tumor.”

Long and DeGaramo spent last summer searching primary research articles to uncover these hurdles and worked with experts in the field to construct the article.

“Contributing to this article allowed me to experience the in-depth process of researching and writing for a scientific journal article. Knowing the specifics of this rigorous process will be of huge import in my pursuit of a future in medicine and biomedical research,” Degarmo explained.  

Dr. Long added, “David was instrumental in crafting this manuscript. It’s exciting getting undergraduates involved in this type of collaborative project.”

DeGaramo concluded, “If these roadblocks can be addressed, this treatment could be applied to solid tumors effectively and it could help countless afflicted individuals. I am thrilled to have been able to contribute to the scientific community in pursuit of this goal.”

The article can be found here: