Class of 2018
Alessandra is interested in stem cell research and regenerative medicine because she believes that this field has the potential to treat various diseases in patients who are unresponsive to current therapies. She is particularly interested in the application of stem cell research to study the development of new cancer therapies. After completing her Master’s degree at Cal Poly, Alessandra wants to pursue a PhD to allow her to combine her interests of research and teaching students.Alessandra is completing her internship in Dr. Willert's lab located at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine at UCSD. Previous studies have shown that certain cancer cells upregulate FZD7 expression, which is normally confined to early development, making it an appealing target for cancer immunotherapy. Alessandra has been working on engineering FZD7-specific chimeric antigen receptors to be expressed in iPSC-derived natural killer cells, which will allow the immune system to target and kill FZD7-positive cancer cells. Additionally, she has been developing bi-specific antibodies, which are Wnt mimetics, for the alternative activation of the Wnt pathway.