Tina Nham

   Fourth Year Co-op Student


   M.D. Candidate, McMaster        
   University, Class of 2019

   Bachelor of Science, McMaster      
   University, Class of 2016

   905-525-9140 extension 22778

After taking the Introduction to Immunology course I became extremely interested in the McMaster Immunology Research Centre and joined the Ashkar lab as an undergraduate Biochemistry co-op student in January 2015. My research in this lab focuses on autologous Natural Killer (NK) Cell Cancer Immunotherapy, which is the prospect of harnessing the power of a cancer patient's own immune cells to eradicate tumour cells.

During my co-op term, my first project looked at using umbilical cord blood as a valuable source for NK cell immunotherapy. I continued in the Ashkar lab for my fourth year senior thesis and started a new project, which aims to evaluate the clinical efficacy of Autologous NK Cell Cancer Immunotherapy as a second-line treatment for ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer (OC) is the fifth most common cancer in women and the leading cause of gynecological cancer-related deaths in both the USA and Europe. Eighty percent of patients experience disease reoccurrence after first-line surgery/chemotherapy regimens, thus there is a need for new second-line treatment modalities to improve the prognosis of ovarian cancer patients (OCPs). Ascites-derived natural killer cells (ascites-NK cells) from the peritoneal tumour environment of OCPs exhibit a protumorigenic phenotype and impaired cytotoxicity, which may play a role in perpetrating OC progression. We currently obtain clinical samples of peripheral blood and ascites from OCPs from the Juravinski Cancer Centre. Our group seeks to investigate the clinical efficacy of using an ex vivo expansion process to generate mature, activated expanded NK cells from the ascites of OCPs, for use in an autologous model of NK cell immunotherapy.