Pronouns: She, Her
Research Mentor(s): Yang Zhang, Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Department of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics, Michigan Medicine
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 6 (4pm-4:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 17
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. All cancer is a result of gene mutations, which can cause the formation of abnormally functioning proteins that change a cell’s behavior from normal to cancerous. Contrary to prior cancer treatments focusing on treatments not native to the human body, this research study aims to harness the natural immune response. This project involves the design of a novel protein sequence using a computational protein design program called UniDesign. This novel protein will be designed to inhibit the PD-1/PD-L1 protein-protein interaction, which is responsible for preventing T-cells from destroying other cells. In cancer patients, the new protein could be used to inhibit the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway, which would allow T-cells to destroy cancer cells. Thus, this treatment utilizes the native immune response as a source of cancer therapy. In order to determine the effectiveness of the novel protein at inhibition, the binding affinity of the new protein sequence will be compared to that of the original PD-1/PD-L1 PPI. As such, the protein developed in this project will have the potential to target the PD-1/PD-L1 PPI to ultimately treat cancer in patients.