B cells: New players in the immune response to cancer

High-grade serous ovarian cancer is an aggressive disease with a low survival rate (~30%). Patients who survive longer mount strong antitumor immune responses as evidenced by the recruitment of immune cells to their tumors. Among those tumor-infiltrating immune cells, B cells that produce antibodies are particularly prognostic, yet poorly studied. We still do not know how B cells help to control tumor growth.

Using a technique that captures gene expression with single-cell resolution, I will profile immune cells isolated from 50 ovarian tumor specimens. I will then leverage these single-cell gene expression profiles (i) to identity prognostic B-cell subpopulations and (ii) to determine how B cells interact with other immune cells to ultimately eliminate tumor cells. Next, I will isolate the antibodies produced by tumor-infiltrating B cells and use these antibodies to define what B cells recognize on tumor cells.

My findings will provide unprecedented insights into the inner workings of the immune system in patients, informing the design of new immunotherapies that boost antitumor immunity and promote long-term survival of patients.