Fred Hutch Names New Director of HCT, UC San Diego School of Medicine Receives $8 Million, and more

Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD
Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD

Barbara Savoldo Receives Grant From LLS for CAR T-Cell Research

Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD, assistant director of the Immunotherapy Program at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, received a three-year, $600,000 grant from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to support her research on an investigational chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

Dr. Savoldo and her team are focused on developing a “safety switch” that, should a patient experience toxicities, halts the expansion of infused T cells. If successful, the approach could reduce potentially lethal adverse events of CAR T-cell treatment, such as cytokine release syndrome.

Source: University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center news release, November 21, 2017.


University of California San Diego School of Medicine Receives $8 Million to Study Stem CellBased Treatments

Researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego School of Medicine received two grants totaling almost $8 million to study novel stem cell–based therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine unanimously approved the funding.

Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine, received a $5.15 million grant to advance clinical translation of natural killer cells derived from human embryonic stem cells into a standardized treatment for AML and other leukemias.

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, deputy director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center and director of stem cell research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center; Michael Burkart, PhD, professor in the UC San Diego Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Leslie Crews, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Regenerative Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, received a $2.7 million grant to test a novel therapeutic splicing modulator approach targeting stem cells in AML. These cells are believed to cause relapse in AML and other cancers.

Source: University of California San Diego news release, December 1, 2017.


Maximiliano D’Angelo, PhD
Maximiliano D’Angelo, PhD

Maximiliano D’Angelo Receives Funding for Blood Cell and Cancer Research

Maximiliano D’Angelo, PhD, an assistant professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, received a four-year, $792,000 Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS). The funding will be used to study how alterations in nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) contribute to the malignant transformation of blood cells and cancer, which have been detected in several types of leukemia.

The ACS Research Scholar Grants are awarded to promising research projects that may lead to the elimination of cancer as a major health problem. Recipients must be in the first six years of an independent research career or faculty appointment. “There is a tremendous need to understand the pathways leading from NPC defects to cancer – insights that may lead to better treatments and potentially cures,” said Dr. D’Angelo.

Source: Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute press release, December 1, 2017.


Geoffrey Hill, MBChB, MD
Geoffrey Hill, MBChB, MD

Geoffrey Hill Joins Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Geoffrey Hill, MBChB, MD, a hematologist who leads the bone marrow transplantation and cancer programs at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, will join the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as director of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), effective July 1. Dr. Hill also treats stem cell and bone marrow transplant patients at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Australia.

In this new role, Dr. Hill will join the Clinical Research Division and will be the José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair for Cancer Research. He will provide care to patients undergoing transplantation at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and serve as a professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington.

Dr. Hill’s research team has studied the immunologic processes of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). He has developed preclinical models demonstrating the type of cells that initiate GVHD and how cytokines impact disease severity. In this role, Dr. Hill will continue his research aimed at minimizing GVHD and improving HCT outcomes for patients.

Source: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center news release, December 7, 2017.


California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Awards Grant to Study T-Cell–Targeted Viruses in Pediatric Patients

Michael Pulsipher, MD, of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Michael Keller, MD, of Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC, were awarded $4.8 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to study a new T-cell therapy for children with severe immune deficiencies, including Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and adenovirus.

Drs. Pulsipher and Keller will use viral-specific T cells engineered to target the viruses. T cells from healthy donors will be preserved in a donor bank, then individually matched to patients based on genetic makeup and viral infection before shipment to individual centers for infusion.

“Our study design is to use a multivirus T-cell therapy to reconstitute immunity against all three of these viruses,” said Dr. Pulsipher. “Restoring immunity against multiple viruses simultaneously provides patients with protection from severe viral infections and reduces the need for continued prophylaxis with pharmacotherapy drugs after transplant, which can have adverse effects.”

Source: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles press release, November 6, 2017.

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