ACGT awards $500,000 to advance immunotherapy approach for treating solid tumors

A scientific team led by Brian Brown, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Associate Director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, New York), has been awarded $500,000 from Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) to advance a promising immunotherapy approach to fight lung cancer and other solid tumor cancers.

Despite some amazing successes, not all patients respond to current immunotherapies. Dr. Brown notes that one cell type that appears to be responsible for poor responses to immunotherapy against solid tumors is called a macrophage. As part of the natural immune system, macrophages typically protect patients from infections, but tumors can reprogram macrophages to suppress other immune system cells and keep them from killing cancer cells. It's this behavior that Dr. Brown intends to stop by equipping a patient's own T cells to kill immune-suppressing macrophages in tumors.

Dr. Brown's creative strategy is rooted in the success achieved by chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which engineers T cells to target and kill cancer cells. His goal is to develop a new CAR that specifically kills macrophages in tumors while sparing macrophages in healthy tissue. Doing this will clear the way for other T cells to enter and destroy the tumors.

ACGT has been instrumental in funding some of the decade's most transformative research, including breakthroughs in the use of CAR T-cell gene therapy for leukemia by the University of Pennsylvania's Carl H. June, MD.

Dr. June received his first ACGT grant in 2004 and a second in 2008, back when gene therapy was considered a risky proposition. Fast forward to today and the field has changed dramatically with major pharmaceutical companies and research institutions vying for the next big discovery using gene therapy or immunotherapy."

Kevin Honeycutt, CEO and President of ACGT

"The ACGT Scientific Advisory Council believes Dr. Brown and colleagues may be well within reach of a life-changing breakthrough in the treatment of solid tumors," says Honeycutt. "Dr. Brown's proposed gene therapy is an impressive and promising example of the ingenuity that's driving this new era in cancer cell and gene therapies."

Dr. Brown will also be a featured panelist at the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Summit 2021 on April 29, 2021. The virtual Summit 2021 will feature scientists and companies who are driving the latest advances in cancer cell and gene therapy for solid tumors. Dr. Brown will be discussing Innovating Science, from the Lab to the Clinic in a virtual session. Keynote speakers for the event include Carl H. June, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Nobel Laureate James P. Allison, PhD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, founder and chair Advisory Board, Myeloid Therapeutics. Registration for this online event is available at acgtfoundation.org.

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