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Professor Katharina Gaus: The physics behind CAR T-cell receptors

8 October 2019

The Malaghan Institute recently welcomed the Head of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Australia Node in Single Molecule Science, Scientia Professor Katharina Gaus, to present her work developing new cellular imaging technologies that could help create more effective CAR T-cells.

Her talk, ‘Single molecule localisation microscopy of T-cell receptor signalling’ focused on her research developing novel ways to locate and track single molecules within cells. Her approach uses microscopy to create complex and detailed spatial organisations of different intracellular signal pathways. Using this cutting-edge technology, Prof Gaus and her team are designing experimental frameworks to better understand the molecular mechanisms of receptor signalling, such as the receptors used in CAR T-cells. 

Receptors are one of the many tools cells use to communicate with each other. They are often physical proteins that sit on the surface of cells and interact with receptors from adjacent cells, initiating different reactions and signals within the cells. In CAR T-cells, the effectiveness of the receptors is vitally important, as they are responsible for initiating the destruction of the cancerous cell. 

“The Malaghan Institute was privileged to host Prof Katharina Gaus,” said Malaghan Institute Director Professor Graham Le Gros. “Of particular interest to our scientists are her studies on how CAR T-cell receptors work. Her technology looks able to assist our scientists to build better CAR T-cell receptors and make more effective cancer treatments.”

Prof Gaus is also a Senior Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advances Molecular Imaging. Her group investigates intracellular signal processes in immune cells (T-cells) using advances fluorescence microscopy technology. She was awarded the Young Investigator Award from the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (2010), the Gottschalk Medal from the Australian Academy of Science (2012), the New South Wales Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Biological Sciences (2013) and the Kwarizmi International Award (2018).