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Our Laboratories

Liver Tumor Research Laboratories

Andras Heczey, MD
The laboratory of Andras Heczey, MD is focused on genetic engineering strategies to redirect the immune system to destroy cancer cells. These strategies include optimizing the design and function of chimeric antigen receptors expressed in lymphocytes to effectively kill tumor cells, survive the immune inhibitory tumor microenvironment and persist in patients long-term to provide immunesurveillance against cancer recurrence. The laboratory is specifically interested in the immunotherapy of solid tumors using these optimized CAR constructs and has developed state-of-the-art approaches to study the delicate interplay between CAR T cells and tumors cell in patients with microtechniques at the single cell resolution. The lab has specific projects targeting glypican-3-positive solid tumors (including hepatoblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, Wilm's tumor and rhabdoid tumors) as well as neuroblastoma. Clinical trials conducted by the Heczey lab include a Phase 1 study testing GPC3-CAR T cells in children with liver cancer and, in collaboration with Dr. Leonid Metelitsa, a first-in-human Phase 1 study of evaluating GD2-CAR expressing Natural Killer T cells in children with neuroblastoma.  

Dolores Lopez-Terrada, MD, PhD 
Dr. Lopez-Terrada’s laboratory is dedicated to the molecular characterization of hepatoblastoma and other pediatric liver tumors. The laboratories ongoing research projects include: genetic profiling of hepatoblastoma and other pediatric hepatocellular neoplasms using methods such as cancer genomics, to identify critical signaling pathways, mutations, copy number and epigenetic changes that are associated with disease prognosis, or that otherwise may be used as therapeutic targets. Her laboratory is also dedicated to clinical translation and to develop new genetic and molecular clinical tests that could be used to refine the diagnosis, clinical stratification and disease monitoring of pediatric liver cancer patients.

Sanjeev A. Vasudevan, MD 
Dr. Vasudevan's research laboratory focuses on validation of potential therapeutic targets found in hepatoblastoma in hopes of finding new, effective therapies for disease refractory and metastatic patients. His laboratory is currently studying methods of activating the p53 tumor suppressor pathway in hepatoblastoma and the role of AFP in tumor recurrence and metastasis. Dr. Vasudevan also has an active collaboration with Dr. Karl-Dimiter Bissig, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine. Drs. Vasudevan and Bissig are studying the transcriptome of hepatoblastoma and developing patient-derived mouse xenografts for preclinical study. Dr. Vasudevan’s laboratory hopes to validate multiple targets in order to find novel and less toxic therapeutic agents to improve outcomes for children with liver cancer.