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Polygence Scholar2022
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Kshetra Polavarapu

Coppell High SchoolClass of 2024Irving, Texas



  • "Explore gene editing: Learn about genetics and its uses in healthcare" with mentor Rami (Sept. 28, 2023)
  • "Combining CAR T-cell and immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, a promising, yet unproven immuno-oncology approach" with mentor Thomas (Sept. 1, 2022)

Project Portfolio

Explore gene editing: Learn about genetics and its uses in healthcare

Started Aug. 10, 2023

Portfolio item's cover image

Abstract or project description

This Pod will have a one week break in sessions and will not hold a session on September 20th. The program will instead conclude on September 27th.

The idea of gene editing might sound like something out of a science fiction movie… how would you even start to think about changing the DNA that gives the trillions of cells in your body instructions on how to function properly? In this pod, you’ll dive into the world of genetics and gene editing and explore the potential for gene editing use in human health and disease applications. Through this process, you’ll learn about conducting research, the cutting-edge technologies allowing for gene editing, and the ethics of manipulating the human genome.

Project Portfolio

Combining CAR T-cell and immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, a promising, yet unproven immuno-oncology approach

Started Apr. 16, 2022

Abstract or project description

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a method that extracts T cells from the patient's blood and virally introduces a genetically engineered T cell receptor targeting a specific cancer antigen and subsequently readministering these genetically engineered CAR T cells to the patient. These T cells are then better at identifying the tumors and attaching to these tumor cells resulting in a stronger cytotoxic immune response. The development of CAR T cells has been a huge success as an immunotherapy, especially for the targeting of non-solid tumors. Since their original inception in 1987, there are now six independent FDA approved CAR T cell therapies targeting a variety of blood cancers, with the first being approved in 2017. As a relatively new treatment, there is a continuous effort in improving the safety and efficacy of CAR T cell therapies. As mentioned previously, CAR T cells have undoubtedly been successful in the treatment of non-solid tumors, however their efficacy towards treatment of solid tumors has been limited. Additionally, the safety and long-term effects of CAR T cell treatments is still a concern. Combination therapy utilizing CAR-T cells and immune checkpoint inhibitors is being explored to potentially mitigate some of the limitations associated with CAR-T cells. These immune checkpoint inhibitors block the effects of the immunosuppressive microenvironment, so when combined with the CAR-T cell therapy, it would increase the success rate of the treatment. Because of this, the immune checkpoint inhibitors prevents the CAR T cells from becoming exhausted, thereby increasing the success rate of the treatment, proving the feasibility and positive impacts of a combination therapy between immune checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T cell therapy.