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Three research teams at the CU Cancer Center have received $50,000 grants from the Denver Chapter of Golfers Against Cancer to support their research.

Five CU Cancer Center Members Receive Grants From Golfers Against Cancer

The funds will be used on research targeting ALL, multiple myeloma, and Ewing Sarcoma.

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Written by Greg Glasgow on January 13, 2022

Three research teams at the University of Colorado Cancer Center have received $50,000 grants from the Denver Chapter of Golfers Against Cancer to support their research in fighting the disease.

Golfers Against Cancer is a national organization founded in 1997 by a group of Houston golfers who started raising money for cancer research after losing two of their golfing buddies to the disease. The Denver chapter opened in 2009 with donations from events going to fund research at CU Cancer Center.

Looking at the role of the central nervous system in ALL

Jordan Jacobelli, PhD, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, received funding for his study Mechanism of Protocadherin-9 Mediated Leukemia Colonization of the Central Nervous System, which seeks to inhibit leukemia infiltration and colonization of the central nervous system to prevent relapses in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

“This award will allow my lab to extend a promising line of research aimed at understanding how leukemia cells infiltrate the central nervous system and cause damage and relapses,” Jacobelli says. “By enabling additional research on this topic, our lab will be able to confirm the involvement of a specific molecule in this leukemia dissemination process and begin to determine if inhibiting this molecule can be effective in preventing leukemia relapses. The additional data garnered through this project will then be leveraged to apply for a larger National Cancer Institute grant to undertake more translational studies to prevent leukemia relapses.”

Identifying the best treatments for multiple myeloma patients

The research team of Dan Sherbenou, MD, PhD, and Peter Forsberg, MD, will use the funds for their study Functional Precision Medicine to Improve Physician-Selected Drug Regimens for Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma, which will evaluate a laboratory test for its potential to help pick the best treatments for patients who have relapsed multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that remains incurable despite an increase in treatment options.

“We have developed a test we call Myeloma Drug Sensitivity Testing (My-DST), which measures treatment effects from patient tumor cells outside the body before the patient starts a new line of therapy,” the researchers say. “Through this, we are seeking to optimize response rates and improve remissions. This funding will allow us to compare My-DST results in a clinical trial we recently opened, Physician Selected Selinexor-based Therapy for Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma. If successful, we will be a step closer to putting our personalized medicine approach to clinical use to benefit patients with multiple myeloma.”

Improving CAR-T therapy for Ewing Sarcoma

The team of Sujatha Venkataraman, PhD, M. Eric Kohler, MD, PhD, and Masanori Hayashi, MD, will apply their funding to the further development of gene-edited CAR-T cells as a novel treatment for metastatic Ewing Sarcoma, a rare cancer that occurs most often in children and young adults.

“The majority of children and young adults with relapsed and/or metastatic Ewing Sarcoma will not be cured despite intensive treatment with traditional chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery,” Venkataraman and Kohler say. “As metastases are the primary cause of death in these patients, new therapies must be developed that specifically treat or prevent metastatic disease. With this goal in mind, we have developed a novel therapy for Ewing Sarcoma in which we genetically engineer part of the patient’s immune system (the T cell) with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). This allows these CAR-T cells to target the cancer cells anywhere in the body and eliminate them like they were an infection.”

The researchers are using CRISPR editing to increase the lifespan of our CAR-T cells, which they hypothesize will increase their effectiveness in preventing the metastatic spread of Ewing Sarcoma cells throughout the body and eliminating the metastatic tumors that have already formed.

“We anticipate these studies, made possible by the generous support of Golfers Against Cancer, will generate critical preclinical data necessary for future funding of the development of this promising therapy and for the translation of this therapy to clinical trials for patients who are in desperate need of new and effective therapies,” the researchers say.

→ Learn more about CAR-T cells advancements from the CU Cancer Center



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Dan Sherbenou, MD, PhD

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Peter Forsberg, MD

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Jordan Jacobelli, PhD

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M. Eric Kohler, MD, PhD

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Sujatha Venkataraman, PhD

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Masanori Hayashi, MD