Dr. Balveen Kaur
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Neurosurgery
The Kaur laboratory is investigating studying brain tumors and their interactions with the extracellular matrix and tumor microenvironment. Nature designed the brain to be an immune privileged environment that is further protected by the blood brain barrier. Paradoxically the measures that evolved to protect this vital organ also renders tumors in it refractory to most treatments. Thus for most patients and their families the diagnosis of a brain tumor spells devastation, and there exists an immediate need for novel therapies.
We collaborate with physicians, mathematicians, and biologists to identify unique challenges to design novel ways to destroy these tumors. One of the novel approaches we use in the laboratory includes engineering and arming the cold sore virus (HSV-1) to act as a tumor-targeted bomb that destroys cancer cells and also educates and organizes the patient’s individual stealth killers (host T cells) to eradicate tumors. Approaches we have used include arming the virus with angiostatic genes, extra cellular matrix modifying genes, and immune modulatory genes. We also partner with pharma to bring drugs from laboratory bench to patient bed side and back.
A tutorial in the laboratory would expose students to a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the molecular basis of disease, and also understand the path towards drug development. Students in the Kaur laboratory can look forward to a mentored research experience in a team environment where they will be exposed to state of the art technology and will also be challenged to hone in on their grant writing and presentation skills.