Ichwaku Rastogi, PhD
B. Tech: M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India (2013, Biotechnology)
MS: University of Illinois at Chicago (2015, Medical Biotechnology)
PhD: University of Wisconsin-Madison (2022, Cancer Biology)
Anti-tumor vaccines are relatively newer therapeutic approach in cancer treatment. They can potentially elicit humoral as well as cellular immune response against the encoded tumor antigen. McNeel lab has been interested in understanding the mechanism of action as well as the decoding the optimal treatment strategy for immunizing prostate cancer patients. Ichwaku's role is to evaluate the patient samples collected during our clinical trials and analyze them for antigen specific T cell activity after immunization with DNA vaccine. He is working on identifying the antigen specific TCR sequences that are generated in responding patients for each of the prostate cancer antigen DNA vaccines (AR, PAP and SSX2). He is also working on mapping the tumor biopsies using spatial transcriptomics to understand the tumor microenvironment and identify differences between responding and non-responding patients. His other projects include understanding the antigen presenting mechanism/capacities of B cells in contrast to dendritic cells when presenting antigenic peptide or DNA vaccine to CD8 T cells. Moreover, our collaboration with Gellman lab has provided us with expertise in peptide engineering through which we aim to develop antigenic peptides with increased stability and potentially improved immunogenic capacity when used as anti-tumor peptide vaccines. Ichwaku is actively involved in testing these modified peptides in vitro and in vivo for analyzing their efficacy and anti-tumor activity.