Our Research Focus

The two defining themes of our laboratory is gene therapy and cancer immunotherapy. We intend to dwell into the basics and focus on the molecular mechanisms of viral gene delivery, with special reference on innate immune responses against viral vectors. In parallel, we work on both basic and preclinical aspects of genetically modified Natural Killer (NK) cells a in cancer immunotherapy. More specifically, the aims of the research program in our laboratory are:

  • Engineering of viral vectors and viral gene delivery processes for efficient genetic modification of human cells under clinically compatible conditions.
  • Enhancement of tumor targeting by immune cells for antigen-specific adoptive immunotherapy of cancer.
  • Production and testing of clinical-grade monoclonal antibodies for cancer immunotherapy.


Below are some of examples of current research projects being carried out at #sutlulab.

Gene Therapy

Identification of mechanisms that contribute to the resistance against lentiviral gene delivery in human NK cells.

Especially in cells of the innate immune system, the success of viral gene delivery has always proven challenging and less efficient than other cells of hematopoietic origin. Click here to learn more about our approach to increasing the efficiency of lentiviral gene transfer protocols.


We aim to investigate the potential use of NK-exosomes to target various tumor types

In the light of recent findings demonstrating that human NK cells release exosomes which can rapidly eliminate various tumor cell lines, we now know that exosomes released by activated NK cells express typical cytotoxic proteins like Perforin and Granzyme B. Click here to learn about our research on developing NK-exosomes as an off-the-shelf product for cancer immunotherapy.

Cancer Immunotherapy

Gene transfer into NK cells may open new possibilities for the immunotherapy of cancer. 

Our research in this area focuses on the retargeting of NK cells towards tumor-associated antigens via genetic modifications in order to provide an effective an targeted approach for in vivo targeting of tumors. Click here to learn more about our research on the preclinical development of genetically modified NK cells.

Our team and collaborators

Sutlulab is located at Sabanci University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center in Istanbul, Turkey. Click here to learn more about our team members.

Our main collaborators include:

  • Batu Erman lab ( Sabanci University Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Adil Duru lab (Nova Southeastern University Cell Therapy Institute, USA)
  • Evren Alici lab (Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden)
  • İhsan Gürsel lab (Bilkent University, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Ankara, Turkey)
  • Barbaros Oral lab (Uludag University, Faculty of Medicine, Bursa, Turkey)



Our research is primarily funded by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). Below is a list of recent grants we have been awarded:

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) 2232 Returning Scientist Grant (Yurda Dönüş Araştırma Burs Programı) 2014-2016

– The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) 3501 Career Development Program 2014-2017

– The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) 1001 Scientific and Technological Research Projects Funding Program 2015-2018

– The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) 1007 Public Institutions Research Funding Program 2017-2021