As part of a $6 million effort to establish new therapies for high-risk pediatric liver cancer, Navin Varadarajan, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will modify T cells to recognize and kill glypican-3, a molecule found in liver cancer cells.

Inherently that's what the immune systems' white T cells do -they fight invaders or infections.

With two previous awards from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), Varadarajan is working to improve effectiveness of T-cell immunotherapy.

On this CPRIT multi-investigator research award, he joins Andras Heczey, a physician researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, in examining one of the most common forms of liver cancer in adolescents, hepatocellular (HCC) carcinoma.

HCC patient survival rates are under 30 percent.

Current treatment includes surgical resection or liver transplantation in combination with dose-intensive chemotherapy regimens -associated with significant morbidity in HCC - or which may cause low blood cell counts, hearing impairment, speech and cognitive delay and long-term damage to the heart.

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