As the director of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program at the Mass General Cancer Center, Marcela Maus, MD, PhD, is following a childhood dream of fixing genes gone wrong in the pursuit of a cure for cancer.
Using the immune system as a cancer treatment has the potential to induce long-term, durable remissions, and perhaps even cures for some patients. Dr. Maus realizes the incredible potential of this kind of treatment. She’s working to create new and improved immunotherapy treatments for patients with leukemia, multiple myeloma and brain tumors initially, but hopes to expand the program over time to cover numerous tumor types.
“Over the years, I’ve become a specialist in T cells, which have three amazing and important properties. They can kill other cells they see as a target; they can be turned on and off by specific signals; and they stick around for your whole life. I want to get to know T cells very well, how they work, and how we can get them on our side,” Dr. Maus explains. “Enlisting and directing T cells has the potential to cure cancer, which is a crazy ambitious goal, but that is my dream.”
Dr. Maus is considered one of the most talented, rising stars in the field of cancer immunology. She trained with Carl June, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania and Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, both pioneers in the field, and now brings her own fresh perspective to advancing immunotherapy research at the Mass General Cancer Center.