Motivation and Goals of this position

Using Natural killer (NK) cells to treat cancer is a relatively novel treatment approach. These lymphocytes are mainly found in the
human blood stream, but their number is not enough to successfully fight the disease. To solve this issue, NK cells can be isolated
from blood, enhanced through gene modification, stimulated in-vitro to expand in number, and injected back into the patient where
they can selectively target and kill malicious cells.

However, current cell expansion processes are mainly performed in scarcely controlled systems, with a high process failure rate. At
the core of this issue is the lack of understanding on NK cell growth kinetics and its relationship with the development of a highly
functional profile to successfully fight cancer. Therefore, developing a tool to monitor and predict both cell growth and functionality
would enable significant treatment cost reductions and improve overall therapy efficacy.

The aim of this work is to integrate the NK cell functionality into a common descriptor by evaluating their cytotoxicity through indirect
cell death quantification (analysis of co-culture supernatants), and the direct evaluation of cell activity (cytokine release profile and
surface markers expression). Additionally, we aim to incorporate secondary measurements of the cytotoxicity assay to the
characterization of lymphocyte’s morphology, metabolism and activity to better describe the behavior of the biomass produced during
culture.

Methods

  • Enzyme immunoassays for cytokine quantification in co-culture supernatants.
  • HPLC analysis of abundant proteins in serum and aminoacids in culture supernatants.
  • Flow cytometry for Perforin and Granzyme in Lymphocytes.
  • Image analysis of cell aggregates and single cell morphology.
  • Multivariate data analysis and data-driven modeling.

Opportunities

We offer a highly interesting, diversified position comprising bioprocess technology and modelling tools projected on Cell Therapy (ATMP) bioprocesses in tight cooperation with applied basic science projects of the Institute of Cell and Tissue Culture Technologies, BOKU.

Time-frame and salary

This work will be done at TU WIEN, Research Area of Biochemical Engineering and can start on September 1st 2021.

We looking forward to your application!