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Dr. Yu's Research

Alice Yu's Research on Neuroblastoma and identification of biomarkers

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system most commonly found in children under the age of five; it is the third most common malignancy of childhood. Approximately half the patients are diagnosed with a high-risk form from which the survival rate is very poor. In 2010, I reported that ch14.18, an antibody therapeutic that I have been developing for more than 20 years, was shown to significantly improve survival (Fig. 1, right), though a recent update showed some of the survivors eventually relapsed and died. Thus it is clear that the therapy remains imperfect as well as is accompanied by serious side effects. Thus a major focus of my lab is the identification of biomarkers that will predict patient outcome and to understand the mechanisms behind the side effects. Natural Killer (NK) cells are important innate immune effector cells that provide rapid responses to tumor and infected cells and are regulated through stimulatory and inhibitory receptors (Fig 2, left). As the balance of these receptors can influence outcome, we are determining whether various types and combinations will create a molecular profile that will allow prediction of response much better than any one of the parameters individually


Dr. Yu Research Neuroblastoma Dr. Yu Research NK Receptors

Figure 1 (Left) Ch14.18 significantly improved Event Free survival of children with High Risk Neuroblastoma. (Right) Balance of activating and inhibitory NK receptors KIR, FcR and NKp30 in ch14.18 immunotherapy. High affinity FcR can be either favorable or unfavorable if accompanied by other stimulatory or inhibitory receptors