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Mehul Gupta – Studentship – 2019

Mehul Gupta is an Undergraduate Science Student at the University of Calgary.

Mehul’s project has been generously supported by a gift from the Taite Boomer Foundation

About the research

Project title: “The Perfect Shot: Generation of Personalized Vaccines for Refractory Childhood Brain Tumours”

Brain tumours are the most common solid tumour in children and currently it is the single most common cause of cancer related deaths in this age group. Many children who survive their disease will also endure severe long-term side effects of the treatments they have received. Therefore, the discovery and implementation of effective and acceptable novel therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. Immunotherapy is a promising new treatment strategy for many cancers where the patient’s immune system is stimulated to specifically target cancer cells. Recently, the effectiveness of anti-cancer vaccines has been shown in clinical trials for adult patients. However, this new knowledge has to be applicably developed with the attention to the uniqueness of pediatric brain tumour biology. In this study, we aim to use novel molecular and bioinformatics approaches to identify molecules found on the cancer cells, known as neoantigens, as vaccines to awaken the immune system against the tumour cells. The effectiveness of these neoantigen vaccines will be evaluated and validated in various laboratory assays. It is expected that the data generated in this research study will support the formulation of safe and effective novel therapies for pediatric brain tumours in the future.

About Mehul, in his own words…

Mehul Gupta 2019 Research StudentshipBeing awarded the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Studentship is an unbelievable opportunity for me to work closely with Dr. Aru Narendran, an expert in the field of pediatric neuro-oncology, and in doing so learn more about a field I am incredibly interested in.

Financial constraints are one of the primary barriers that prevent young people from pursuing fantastic educational and work-experience opportunities like research. However, through the generous support of donors who make the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Studentship possible, I have the opportunity to learn and work in an area that I hope to pursue in the future. Through this research, I have the opportunity to immerse myself in cutting edge work being done in the field of immunotherapy for pediatric cancers, while also contributing to promising research that may improve the lives of children suffering with devastating disease.

As a student who wants to pursue a career in Neuro-Oncology in the future, the opportunity to grow and learn as a young researcher through the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Studentship is invaluable. On behalf of my supervisor, Dr. Aru Narendran, and myself I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, Taite Boomer Foundation and all of the donors who make this program possible.