Precise genetic engineering to improve treatment of blood cancers

Project type

  • Honours

Project details

Cancers results from mutations in oncogenes (cancer-causing genes) or in tumor suppressor genes which allow leukemic cells to have a growth advantage over normal cells.

Studying the impact of such mutations in the laboratory often relies on analyzing cell lines derived from patients with blood cancers (leukemias, lymphomas). To better understand how these mutations impact therapy, the student will apply state-of-the-art genome editing techniques (CRISPR, prime editing) to engineer precise mutations in critical genes e.g., BCL2 or TP53 (Thijssen, Blood 2021 137(20):2721) and study their impact on the biology of leukemic cells and, critically, how such mutations affect responses to targeted anti-cancer agents.

Developing such tools will allow the student to discover new ways for tackling blood cancers that often carry a dismal outlook.

About our research group

The Huang lab studies how cell death is controlled in mammalian cells and use the knowledge we gain for improving the outcomes of patients e.g., success of venetoclax, the BCL2 inhibitor, for treating patients with some types of blood cancers.

We apply innovative techniques e.g., single-cell sequencing (Thijssen, Blood 2022 140(20):2127) and work closely with our clinical colleagues in the development of drugs that target the pro-survival BCL2 proteins.

Together with the lab of Andrew Roberts, we are a vibrant team of ~12 researchers from diverse backgrounds. Team members have a wide range of skills (clinical, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetic or drug screening, in vivo models, bioinformatics) and work collaboratively to tackle some of the most challenging problems in treating patients with leukemias and lymphomas.

Education pathways