Melissa Meyer, Ph.D.

What if we could target pro-tumoral immune cells while leaving infectious-disease fighting immune cells unharmed?

My SPARK award supports work to understand how immune cells that prevent infection differ from immune cells that support tumor progression in melanoma patients. To do this, I am utilizing new technology, CITE-seq, to understand the markers present on the outside of cells and associate them with an anti-bacterial or pro-tumoral phenotype.

Over the past four months, I have progress in optimizing the process of performing and analyzing the CITE-seq experiment. In addition, working with a larger group, I have designed a custom reagent necessary for the proposed experiments. The custom reagent has finally arrived and will allow me to now begin the large-scale proposed experiment soon. I have also been working with our computational team to prepare for the downstream analysis. We previously generated a CITE-seq mouse bone marrow data set that included neutrophils. We are working through the pipeline with this data set to optimize the analysis for neutrophil detection. Working with the mouse data set will better prepare us to analyze the human data set once it becomes available.

SPARKing Impact: The study will provide new insight into what differentiates infectious disease-fighting immune cells from tumor-promoting immune cells and reveal potential drug targets to eliminate the latter.