September 7, 2016

In the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, ACGT Young Investigators Meenakshi Hegde, MD and Nabil Ahmed, MD, MPH, MSC reported progress targeting specific surface molecules to destroy glioblastoma, one of the most deadly brain cancers. Both investigators in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, their team is studying differing cell populations in solid tumors in order to target treatment directly to cancer cells. In laboratory research, most cancer cells in a mouse model were eliminated and the study confirmed that aiming at only one type of surface molecule on a tumor kills only the cells of the antigen that inhibits treatment. A broader approach must be found. "The cells that do not carry the surface molecule are spared and can continue growing and they become the cells that cause relapse," said Dr. Ahmed. The antigens selected for this study (HER2 and IL13Ra2) are expressed on the surface of most glioblastoma tumors, but in low density on normal tissue, minimizing impact to other parts of the body. Read more about the research or support the ACGT Young Investigator grant program.
The 2016 Young Investigator Award request for applications has been posted with abstracts due September 13th. The grant is made to assistant or associate tenure track professors who are   conducting original research into cell or gene therapy for cancer, working as an independent faculty member reporting directly to a departmental or division Chair. The award provides up to $250,000 distributed over three years. Since its founding, ACGT has awarded 34 discovery grants, and many of these studies have been the basis for clinical trials and innovative gene therapy treatments. Full proposals, by invitation, are reviewed by the ACGT Scientific Advisory Council, which makes their recommendation to the Board of Directors. Join the prestigious ACGT Research Fellowship  and make your research a reality.
Your support is critical in funding ACGT research grants. Support us today.

In the August 16th issue of US News and World Report, contributor Arlene Weintraub reported on a CAR-T immunotherapy treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia with a 59 year-old retired teacher who was told she had less than two years left. This form of the disease, which is often benign, had taken a fatal genetic mutation that resisted chemotherapy. Within a month of her acceptance into a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC her cancer was gone, and now, 18 months later, she remains cancer free. This survivor, like others in recent years who were fortunate to be enrolled in an immunotherapy trial, was treated by using her own killer cells, extracted and re-engineered to trigger her immune system to destroy the cancer. Learn more about CAR-T therapy in our August blog.

US News and World Report also issued their annual ranking of the best hospitals for cancer and many of our Research Fellows and Advisory Council members are affiliated with some of the best of the best. University of Texas MD Anderson once again leads the list followed by Memorial Sloan Kettering - both of these renowned institutions have also been leaders in gene therapy research and trials.

In the Wall Street Journal August 15th, Ron Winslow reported on the continuing challenges of bypassing checkpoint inhibitors to remove obstruction in the way of the immune system's battle with cancer. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have identified a unique type of immune-system cell capable of predicting whether a patient will respond to the drugs that address these molecular blockades. These findings offer new hope for the many researchers determined to face down this possibly last frontier in making immunotherapy the new treatment of choice for many forms of cancer.
Patients, survivors, advocates, physicians, researchers and philanthropists representing over 300 organizations throughout the country will rally at Capitol Hill Thursday September 22nd to urge Congress to make funding for medical research through the National Institutes of Health [NIH] a greater priority. The rally helped regain $2 billion that might have been lost in the austerity budget and aims for another $2 billion in the 2017 budget. New viruses like Zika spreading into North America and the White House's Moonshot initiative seeks to accelerate the progress of new cancer treatments. Research requires time, funding and greater attention from the nation's policymakers. ACGT will be there, follow us on Twitter for more information. Register here for the most up-to-date Rally news.

Twice a month [that's all, we promise] ACGT posts a short, newsy blog about the most promising gene therapy treatments and trials with interesting news for patients, survivors and supporters. Recent posts include: explanations of CAR-T Therapy, CRISPR Technology and the Cancer Moonshot. Sign up to deliver to your inbox or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Once again, supporters and superstars will come together to promote cancer research on September 9, 2016 at
8:00 PM|7:00 PM central on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
Mark your calendar and join us as we Stand Up To Cancer.
ACGT is the only non-profit organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to funding  cell and gene therapies for cancer. Since its founding in 2001, ACGT has awarded  50 gr ants of over $26 million in North America, and continues to be a catalyst for cell and gene therapy research.
100% of all donations are used to support ACGT research grants and studies in cell and gene therapies for cancer.

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