Grant Updates 2010
How ThinkCure! is Making a Difference in Finding Cures for Cancer
Last year, ThinkCure! awarded our first round of grants to researchers at City of Hope and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and we’re already seeing real results in their projects.
The ThinkCure! grant teams are achieving exciting results that are paving the way for new effective cancer treatments. Thanks to supporters like you, we are excited to announce that we’re renewing these grants through December, so that we can continue to support the valuable progress being made by these research teams. ThinkCure! funds two types of grants: 1) Collaborative, which bring hospitals together to accelerate cancer research and 2) Seed, which allow researchers to study promising and new treatments.
From immunotherapeutics to stem cell treatments, the research projects funded by ThinkCure! represent innovative approaches aimed at developing new ways to fight cancers, including brain cancer, leukemia and lymphoma. Below are highlights of each project, and you can click on the links to learn more about each one.
- Treating Brain Cancers With Neural Stem Cells: The ThinkCure! grant team of Drs. Aboody of City of Hope and Moats of Children's Hospital Los Angeles focus on treating the most common malignant childhood brain tumors, in what will be the first human trial using neural stem cells for cancer therapy. The researchers use neural stem cells to deliver a drug directly to the tumors, with the drug becoming active once it reaches the tumors. This strategy might allow physicians to send more cancer-fighting drugs directly to tumor cells while minimizing toxicity to healthy tissues.
- Activating Immune Cells in Brain Tumors: Brain tumors have developed tactics they use to suppress the immune system. The ThinkCure! grant team led by Dr. Badie of City of Hope focuses on directly activating the immune cells that are already present in tumors by developing “nanoparticles” to deliver treatments to tumors. Preliminary tests are promising, and if successful, this approach can be developed to treat not just brain tumors, but other cancers as well.
- Creating Resistance to Leukemia and Lymphoma Relapse: Many patients who initially fight off leukemia or lymphoma see disease return later. A protein called Wilms’ Tumor antigen (WT1) has been associated with the relapse of these and other cancers. Dr. Diamond’s ThinkCure Grant Team at City of Hope has found that patients who develop immunity to WT1 remain disease free longer. The team will now work on treatments to help patients develop this immunity.
- Targeting Lymphoma with Specialized Delivery Vehicles: The overproduction of certain proteins is the root cause of various types of cancer, including lymphoma. Dr. Rossi’s ThinkCure! grant team at City of Hope designed its own treatment delivery vehicles to fight against these proteins. The team found that these delivery vehicles were able to degrade the target cells, resulting in lower production of the proteins associated with lymphoma. Now, the team will work on making these delivery vehicles smarter – able to recognize and target cancerous cells.
- Blocking Communications Between Brain Cancer Cells and Normal Cells in Children: Neuroblastoma is the second most common solid cancer in children. ThinkCure! grant recipients, Drs. Seeger of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Yu of City of Hope, have shown that interactions between cancer cells and normal cells contribute to the growth and spread of neuroblastoma. The team developed three strategies for effectively interfering with the communication network between these cells, slowing the progress of the disease. With the 2010 ThinkCure! funding, the team aims to have the first strategies ready for clinical testing by the middle of next year.
- Putting the Brakes on Medulloblastoma: Using its 2009 ThinkCure! funding, the team led by Dr. Erdreich-Epstein at Children's Hospital Los Angeles found a specific protein that seems to fuel medulloblastoma growth. Preliminary tests of a strategy to counter the protein were successful in slowing the growth of medulloblastoma cells.