Sep. 6, 2019

Winship earns competitive NCI grant to advance cellular therapy

Photo of Winship earns competitive NCI grant to advance cellular therapy
CAR T-cells

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University (Winship) is among a handful of cancer centers in the United States to receive a prestigious grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that will help move new cancer cell therapies from the laboratory into clinical trials for cancer patients. The award will provide an additional $500,000 to supplement Winship's grant supporting its status as the state's only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.

This grant supplement will allow researchers at Winship and Georgia Institute of Technology to create interdisciplinary teams of translational cancer immunologists, basic immunologists, and biomedical engineers who will work together to improve cell therapy.

"We are excited and grateful to be among those cancer centers selected to receive this supplemental funding from the NCI," says principal investigator Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. "The grant will further strengthen Winship's position as an emerging leader in cellular therapy for cancer patients."

Madhav Dhodapkar, MBBS, director of the Winship Center for Cancer Immunology and inaugural holder of the Anise McDaniel Brock Chair, will serve as project leader. Co-investigators include Max Cooper, PhD, professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and the Emory Vaccine Center, and Krishnendu Roy, PhD, director of the Center for ImmunoEngineering at Georgia Tech.

The collaboration will help improve cell therapy for patients with multiple myeloma, a hematologic malignancy characterized by the growth of clonal plasma cells in bone marrow.

Dhodapkar says "The collaborative effort between Winship and Georgia Tech will focus on three unmet needs to improve cell therapy of myeloma: new platforms for antigen targeting, preclinical humanized modeling of cell therapy, and scalable manufacturing."

Currently, chimeric-antigen receptor or CAR T-cell therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). CAR T-cell therapy has been designated as breakthrough status for patients with myeloma and is only available through clinical trials.

The goal of Winship and Georgia Tech investigators is to use the supplemental funding from the NCI to initiate first-in human, Phase I clinical trials.

The work is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health under award number P30 CA138292.

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