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$1 Million Grant for Cancer Gene Therapy Research
November 4, 2008, Volume 55, No. 11



Dr. Carl June, director of Translational Research at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in Penn’s School of Medicine, has received $1 million over the next three years from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, Inc. (ACGT) to harness the immune system to fight the worst cases of ovarian cancer.

As the only national foundation devoted exclusively to funding cancer gene therapy research, the mission of ACGT is to identify and fund innovative scientific research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of all types of cancer, using cells and genes as medicine. The award is entitled The Joan Miller and Linda Bernstein Gene Therapy Ovarian Cancer Award.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer death, and though most patients respond to initial chemotherapy, the majority will eventually relapse and die of chemotherapy-resistant disease. Despite the advent of newer chemotherapies, the five-year survival for patients with advanced disease remains only 25 percent, and few patients are cured.

“With this grant from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy we plan to carry out a Phase 1 clinical trial to test whether the immune cells we designed to withstand the toxic effects of ovarian tumors are able to mediate tumor regression in patients with advanced cancer that has failed to regress after chemotherapy,” said Dr. June. In preliminary studies, Dr. June’s group has developed genetically engineered T cells to augment traditional treatments. The engineered T cells have eradicated large tumors in pre-clinical experiments with animals.

Dr. June was selected by ACGT’s 12-member Scientific Advisory Council, which includes some of the nation’s most preeminent physicians and researchers in cancer gene therapy.




Almanac - November 4, 2008, Volume 55, No. 11