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  • Jordan Lukacs, HBSc


Dr. Brent Johnston

Program of Study:

MSc, Microbiology & Immunology

Project Title:

Combining engineered oncolytic viruses and NKT cell immunotherapy in cancer control

Research Summary:

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada, with a five-year survival rate less than 19%. Lung cancer is difficult to treat due to its resistance to most drug therapies and the tendency of lung cancers to spread to other regions of the body. Most current treatments have limited benefits and are associated with harmful side effects. Thus, there is need for safer and more effective therapies. Our laboratory is focused on developing therapies that stimulate the immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Our proposed therapy will activate natural killer T (NKT) cells, a population of immune cells that kill cancer cells and generate signals that direct other immune cells to also recognize the tumour. This will be combined with viruses that have been engineered to specifically target and kill tumour cells but not healthy cells. We will further engineer these viruses to produce proteins that will either help the virus spread better in tumour cells or assist activated NKT cells in recognizing tumour cells. It is expected that our therapies will enhance the ability of the immune system to target tumours, leading to better tumour clearance and survival in lung cancer.

Scholarships and/or Awards:

  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award 2020
  • I3V Graduate Studentship 2020 - 2022

Career Aspirations:

I plan to transition into a PhD program in Microbiology & Immunology to explore the efficacy of our combined therapies and unravel the roles of NKT cell subsets in lung tumorigenesis. Following this, I plan to pursue a Postdoctoral Fellowship to further explore the potential of oncolytic virotherapy and immunotherapies in the treatment of other cancers.


Dalhousie University


In progress: Submitted to Viruses.

Jackson, R., Lukacs, J. D., & Zehbe, I. (2019). The potentials and pitfalls of a human cervical organoid model including Langerhans cells. bioRxiv, 733501.

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