City of Hope receives $5.2 million from CIRM

New study to target a T cell-based immunotherapy

Kelsey Kaustinen
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DUARTE, Calif.—City of Hope has announced the receipt of a$5,217,004 early translational research award by the California Institute forRegenerative Medicine (CIRM) to support development of a T cell-basedimmunotherapy that redirects patients' immune responses to target glioma stemcells. In total, City of Hope has received more than $49.7 million in CIRMgrant support since the organization began announcing awards in 2006.
"The CIRM grant will help us to build a targeted T celltherapy against glioma that can offer lasting protection, determine the bestway to deliver the treatment, establish an efficient process to manufacturethese T cells for treatment, and get approval for a human clinical trial,"Behnam Badie, M.D., director of the Brain Tumor Program, said in a pressrelease.
Glioma is a type of brain tumor that is prone to recurrenceand among the more difficult types to treat, with a five-year survival rate ofless than 20 percent for patients with malignant gliomas. The low survival rateis due mainly to the resilience of tumor-initiating cancer stem cells,malignant cells that, like normal stem cells, can reproduce indefinitely.Glioma stem cells display a high resistance to chemotherapy and radiationtherapies, and the American Cancer Society predicts that more than 22,000Americans will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year, with 13,700fatalities.
"In this research, we are genetically engineering a centralmemory T cell that targets proteins expressed by glioma stem cells. Centralmemory T cells have the potential to establish a persistent, lifelong immunityto help prevent brain tumors from recurring,"
Stephen J. Forman, M.D., said in a press release. Forman isthe Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and HematopoieticCell Transplantation and director of the T Cell Immunotherapy ResearchLaboratory.
City of Hope researchers have previously identified severalproteins that offer promising targets for the development of cancerimmunotherapies, including interleukin 13 receptor alpha 2, which is found onthe surface of glioma cells, and CD19, an active protein in lymphoma andleukemia cells. Both therapies are currently in Phase I clinical trials. Formanwill be the principal investigator for the newly granted study, which will workon the development of a T cell that can target the different proteins expressedby glioma stem cells. Christine Brown, Ph.D., associate research professor,will be the co-principal investigator, with Badie and Michael Barish, Ph.D., chairof the Department of Neurosciences, serving as co-investigators.
"Because cancer stem cells are heterogeneous, our proposedtherapy will target multiple antigens to cast as wide a net as possible overthis malignant stem cell population," said Brown in a press release.
City of Hope is a collaborative partner in two otherCIRM-funded projects as well. Larry Couture, Ph.D., senior vice president ofCity of Hope's Sylvia R. & Isador A. Deutch Center for Applied TechnologyDevelopment and director of the Center for Biomedicine & Genetics, isworking with Stanford University and Children's Hospital of Orange CountyResearch Institute on their projects.
The grant program supports projects in initial stages ofidentifying drugs or cell types with therapeutic potential, and these awardsare the CIRM's first collaboratively funded research projects with China, thefederal government of Australia and a new project with Germany.
SOURCE: City of Hope press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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