Balveen Kaur, PhDBalveen Kaur, PhD

Associate Director Research, Georgia Cancer Center

Professor, Pathology

Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Research Summary

The Kaur laboratory is a drug development laboratory that specializes in biotherapies to combat cancer. We design oncolytic viruses which are engineered to destroy cancer cells with a precision that only biologics can have. Currently there are three oncolytic viruses that are approved for treatment in the world. These viruses then also fine tune the body’s immune system to seek and clear residual neoplastic cells. Our research is funded by the NIH, DOD, and American Society for Cell and Gene Therapy.

We use state of the art technology to uncover the molecular proteomic and metabolic underpinnings of cancer cell and virus interactions.

Contact Us

The Kaur Lab

Health Sciences Campus

Georgia Cancer Center - M. Bert Storey Research Building

1410 Laney Walker, Blvd


Research Summary

Uncovering host barriers to oncolytic viral therapy:

This is a large multi-institutional program project funded through the NCI. Through this project we are uncovering resistance mechanisms to virus therapy. In this collaborative grant we utilize lessons learnt from an ongoing clinical trial to advance next gen treatment strategies.

Designing Second Generation Therapeutics:

We are evaluating how treated tumor cells change the signaling in the tumor microenvironment. Our recent research published on the cover of Clinical Cancer Research has uncovered changes in cell-to-cell interaction that provides novel avenues for the design of second generation therapeutics. We have used this information to develop a novel virus that can fight cancer by affecting both the cancer cells and the stroma. This project is funded through an NINDS R61/R35 bio therapeutic drug development grant.

Novel Murine models for Virotherapy:

Viruses have evolved to be extremely species specific which makes the preclinical evaluation of these agents very challenging. The Kaur laboratory is developing next generation transgenic mice models that are sensitive to the cold sore virus to better reflect efficacy and toxicity of this therapeutic strategy.

Antibody Targeted Therapy

We are also engaged in harnessing the potential of antibodies to target solid tumors. Strategies being explored include advanced ways of drug delivery to counter blood brain tumor barriers. This project is funded by an ongoing DOD grant, and a collaborative multi institutional R01 grant.

Uncovering impact of Novel therapies on tumor microenvironment:

Through this project we dissect the impact of tumor induced signaling changes on non cancerous cells in the tumor microenvironment. Dr Arreguin is funded through a mentored American Society for Gene and Cell therapy grant for this project. We also have a large NIH funded R01  that is investigating the impact of tumor specific blockade of cancer stem cell like signaling.

Selected Publications

Hong BH, Sahu U, Mullarkey MP, Hong E, Pei G, Yan Y, Otani Y, Banasavadi-Siddegowda Y, Fan H, Zhao Z, Yu J, Caligiuri MA, Kaur B. PKR induces TGF-β and limits oncolytic immune therapy. Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. (2023) Feb;11(2):e006164. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2022-006164.

Tian T, Xu B, Chen Y, Li Z, Wang J, Zhang J, Ma R, Cao S, Hu W, Chiocca EA, Kaur B, Caligiuri MA, Yu J. Specific targeting of glioblastoma with an oncolytic virus expressing a cetuximab-CCL5 fusion protein via innate and adaptive immunity. Nature Cancer (2022) Nov;3(11):1318-1335.

Anami Y, Otani Y, Xiong W, Ha SYY, Yamaguchi A, Rivera-Caraballo K, Zhang N, An Zhiqiang, Kaur B, Tsuchikama K. Homogeneity of antibody drug conjugates critically impacts the therapeutic efficacy in brain tumors. Cell reports (2022) 39(8):110839.

Otani Y, Dr. Yoo JY, Lewis CT, Chao S, Swanner J, Shimizu T, Kang JM, Murphy SA, Rivera Caraballo KA, Hong B, Glorioso JC, Nakashima H, Lawler SE, Banasavadi-Siddegowda YK, Heiss JD, Yan Y, Pei G, Caliguri MA, Zhao Z, Chiocca EA, Yu J, Kaur B. NOTCH induced MDSC recruitment after oHSV virotherapy in CNS cancer models modulates anti-tumor immunotherapy. Clinical Cancer research (2022) Apr 1;28(7):1460-1473.

Xu B, Tian L, Chen J, Wang J, Ma R, Dong W, Li A, Zhang J, Chiocca EA, Kaur B, Feng M, Caligiuri M, and Yu J. An oncolytic virus expressing a full-length antibody enhances antitumor innate immune response to glioblastoma. (2021) Nature Communications Oct 8;12(1):5908.

Otani Y, Sur H, Rachaiah G, Namagiri S, Chowdhury A, Lewis CT, Shimizu T, Gangaplara A, Wang X, Vézina A, Maric D, Jackson S, Yan Y, Zhengping Z, Ray-Chaudhury A, Kumar S, Ballester LY, Chittiboina P, Yoo JY, Heiss J, Kaur B, Kumar Banasavadi-Siddegowda y. Inhibiting protein phosphatase 2A increases the antitumor effect of protein arginine methyltransferase 5 inhibition in models of glioblastoma. Neuro Oncol. 2021 Sep 1;23(9):1481-1493.

Hong B, Chapa V, Saini U, Modgil P, Cohn DE, He G, Siddik ZH, Sood AK, Yan Y, Karuppaiyah S, Pei G, Zhao Z, Yoo JY, Kaur B. Oncolytic HSV therapy modulates vesicular trafficking inducing cisplatin sensitivity and anti-tumor immunity. (2021) Can. Res. 27:2:542-553.

Otani Y, Yoo JY, Chao S, Liu J, Jaime-Ramirez AC, Lee TJ, Hurwitz B, Yan Y, Dai H, Glorioso JC, Caligiuri MA, Yu J, Yan y and Kaur B. Oncolytic HSV infected glioma cells activate NOTCH in adjacent tumor cells sensitizing tumors to gamma secretase inhibition. Clinical Cancer Research (2020) May 15;26(10):2381-2392.

Yoo JY, Swanner J, Otani Y, Nair M, Park F, Banasavadi-Siddegowda Y, Liu J, Jaime-Ramirez CA, Hong B, Geng F, Guo D, Bystry D, Phelps M, Quadri H, Lee TJ, Kaur B. Oncolytic HSV therapy increases trametinib access to brain tumors and sensitizes them in vivo. Neuro-Oncology (2019), Vol.21 (9), p.1131-1140

Russell L, Swanner J, Jaime-Ramirez CA, Wang Y, Sprague A, Banasavadi-Siddegowda Y, Yoo JY, Sizemore GM, Kladney R, Zhang J, Lehman NL, Ostrowski M, Hong B, Caligiuri M, Yu J, Kaur B. PTEN expression by an oncolytic herpesvirus directs T-cell mediated tumor clearance. Nature Communications. (2018). 9(1):5006. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07344-1.

Xu B, Ma R, Russell L, Yoo JY, Han J, Cui H, Yi P, Zhang J, Nakashima H, Dai H, Chiocca EA, Kaur B, Caligiuri M, Yu J. An oncolytic herpes virus expressing E-cadherin resists NK cell clearance and improves viral spread and glioblastoma virotherapy. Nature Biotechnology (2019) doi: 10.1038/nbt.4302. 37(1) 45-54.

Banasavadi-Siddegowda YK, Welker AM, An M, Yang X, Zhou W, Shi G, Imitola J, Li C, Hsu S, Wang J, Phelps M, Zhang J, Beattie CE, Baiocchi R, Kaur B. PRMT5 as a druggable target for glioblastoma therapy. (2018) Neuro-Oncology. 20(6): 753-763.

Kim Y, Yoo JY, Lee TJ, Liu J, Yu J, Caligiuri M, Kaur B*, Friedman A*. Complex Role of NK cells in regulation of OV-Bortezomib therapy. Natl. Acad Sci. USA. (2018,). 15(19):4927-4932.

Research Team

photo of Esrat Jahan, PhD

Esrat Jahan, PhD

I am a Research Associate in the Kaur lab. Working as a lab manager and helping in the research.

Fun facts: I have two cutie daughters. My daughters are the strength/power of my life; I enjoy my every moment with them.

photo of Sara A. Murphy

Sara A. Murphy

I am a 5th-year PhD candidate working on immunomodulation of the tumor microenvironment with oHSV therapy.

Fun fact: I have lived on all 3 coasts of the contiguous United States.

photo of Kimberly A. Rivera-Caraballo

Kimberly A. Rivera-Caraballo

I am a 4th year PhD candidate affiliated with the Cancer Biology Program. My research focus is directed to the use of an oHSV to block integrin–a protein that mediates cell-extracellular matrix interactions- in brain tumor and triple-negative breast cancer brain metastasis cells.

Fun fact: I did conservation work at El Yunque National Rainforest in my home country, Puerto Rico.

photo of Upasana Sahu, PhD

Upasana Sahu, PhD

I am a post-doctoral fellow in the Kaur Lab. My research focuses on identifying major resistance pathways and tumor extracellular matrix factors leading to therapy resistance with a specific focus on understanding the regulation of glioma cell stemness and metabolism as drivers of pathology using oHSVs.

Fun fact: I speak 3 languages and I belong to a place with the longest dam in the world.

photo of Karina Vázquez-Arreguín, PhD

Karina Vázquez-Arreguín, PhD

I am a post-doctoral fellow in the Kaur laboratory, with a research focus on developing new oHSVs that disrupt the communication between GBM cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment, therefore allowing for better targeting of GBM tumors.

Fun fact: I was born and raised in central México.