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Yujin Suk – 2021 Studentship Recipient

Yujin Suk

Medical Student, McMaster University

Supervisor: Dr. Sheila Singh

Project:Identification of ITGA5 as a novel immunotherapeutic target against treatment refractory medulloblastoma”

Generously funded by Jack Nichol Family Fund (London Community Foundation)

I am grateful and honoured to receive the Brain Tumour Research Studentship from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the 2021-2022 duration. The award will support my research investigating novel immunotherapeutic modalities for pediatric medulloblastoma patients facing recurrence and/or metastases using recurrent markers such as ITGA5.

I am passionate about performing translational research that aims to bridge the gap between pre-clinical findings in the laboratory to clinical practice in hospitals in order to provide meaningful, alternative treatment modalities for patients facing no other options.

Awards such as the Brain Tumour Research Studentship go a long way not only to directly support my research but also aids in my career development as an aspiring clinician scientist.

Midpoint Update – December 2021

For my project thus far we have been able to validate the functional effects of knocking down ITGA5 in medulloblastoma cell lines. Having thoroughly investigated the in vitro functional effects we have reached out to collaborators in the Netherlands for an ITGA5-specific peptidomimetic that we can use to safely test ITGA5 targeting in vivo. This proof-of-concept trial will be performed in conjunction with standard of care chemoradiation therapy to identify if targeting ITGA5 can reduce or prevent recurrence of medulloblastoma. We hope to also supplement these findings by identifying potential mechanisms for ITGA5 activation in medulloblastomas and their downstream signalling pathways that may play a role in treatment resistance and tumour recurrence.

Fianl Report – March 2024

Exploration of differentially expressed genes on MYC-driven Group 3 medulloblastomas in comparison to normal tissue through time and therapy have yielded promising novel targets that are tumor-specific with little to no expression in normal cells. Through validation of our top hits in pediatric and adult normal tissue microarrays and MB tumor patient biopsies we have confirmed that our top target is both enriched in MYC-driven Group 3 medulloblastoma patients compared to normal tissue and in comparison to other subgroups of medulloblastoma. Transcriptomic analysis of publicly available datasets exploring gene expression through organ development identified that our target is highly expressed during embryogenesis and later becomes inactivated or dampened postnatally. Based on our promising preliminary data, we have begun the development of CAR T cell therapy targeting our protein which will be then tested in our preclinical models of patient derived MYC-driven Group 3 medulloblastomas.