CapTCR TIL Tracking is my research project that I am running in the Pugh Lab at the Princess Margaret Cancer Research Centre. My project uses the innovative tool that the lab has developed called CapTCR to longitudinally track adoptive-cell transfer of Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) from peripheral blood samples.

The project took 10 solid-tumor patients, took a TIL biopsy from them, expanded the TILs, chemo depleted the patient, and then infused the TILs back in with the hope that patients will have an increase in cancer-targeting immune cells. Longitudinal peripheral blood samples were then drawn post-infusion. Multiple genetic information was taken from the blood samples including genomic DNA, RNA, and circulating free DNA.

The genetic information was analyzed and used to be able to gain a full picture of a person’s immune system using MiXCR and custom R functions. The clone tracking function was used to track how well the patient is targeting the cancer using only these blood samples.

Through this project, we were able to successfully track TIL-adoptive cell transfer. Additionally, I made a discovery on how the selected expansion of TIL clones work.

What these discoveries mean for the future of cancer care is that we can track these immunotherapies at a molecular and data-driven level and with my discovery we can also begin to personalize and predict patient response to this therapy based on the certain clones that are expressed in the TIL-infusion.

What inspired you (or your team)?

The future that I want to create is one without disease. A healthcare system so proactive and innovative that diseases don’t stand a chance. This project is from a long line of hard work that I have put in. I am driven to accomplish my goal and completing this project and having the paper come out within the next year is a major step to making patient’s lives better.