The City of Hope National Medical Center in California has been granted a $5.2m award to support the development of T cell-based immunotherapy to target brain tumour stem cells.
The award, provided by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), is expected to help the centre find new ways of redirecting a patient's immune system to specifically target difficult-to-treat tumour cells, known as glioma stem cells.
Principal investigator of the newly granted study, Stephen Forman, and director of the T Cell Immunotherapy Research Laboratory, Kathleen McNamara, said in a joint statement: "Central memory T cells have the potential to establish a persistent, lifelong immunity to help prevent brain tumours from recurring."
Director of the Brain Tumor Program, Behnam Badie, added: "The CIRM grant will help us to build a targeted T cell therapy against glioma that can offer lasting protection, determine the best way to deliver the treatment, establish an efficient process to manufacture these T cells for treatment and get approval for a human clinical trial."
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 22,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012 and 13,700 will die from the disease.
Researchers at City of Hope have previously identified several proteins as potential prime targets for the development of cancer immunotherapies, such as interleukin 13 receptor alpha 2, found on the surface of glioma cells and CD19, a protein that is active in lymphoma and leukaemia cells.
Both investigational therapies are currently in Phase I clinical trials.
Image: New funding will support the development of immunotherapy to target brain tumours. Photo courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net.