PRESS RELEASE - Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Announces ...
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - PRESS RELEASE - Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Announces ...
Ninety-six Cummings Point Road August 23, 2004
Stamford, CT 06902
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Margaret Cianci, Executive Director (203) 358-8000 ext. 495
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy
Announces Additional $2.0 Million in National Grants for Gene
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, Inc. (ACGT) is happy to announce its 2004 GENE THERAPY
FOR LYMPHOMA & LEUKEMIA Grant recipients. In this FIRST OFFERED Grant, totaling $2
million, ACGT is pleased to welcome Carl June, M.D., of University of Pennsylvania, and Michel
Sadelain, M.D., Ph.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, to the growing list of researchers supported by
Since 2001 as the only national foundation devoted exclusively to the funding of cancer gene therapy
research, ACGT has been at the forefront of this dynamic new field by funding $6 million in research
grants in just 2 _ years! In addition to the 2004 Gene Therapy for Lymphoma & Leukemia Grant Awards
of $2 million, ACGT has funded $4 million to 8 Young Investigators at 8 different national medical and
research centers. As an active supporter of a number of extremely promising new research initiatives,
ACGT is focused on methods that will replace or complement existing treatments like chemotherapy,
radiation and surgery to enable patients with all forms of cancer to live longer, better lives. Cancer gene
therapies have the potential not only to improve quality of life for those undergoing treatment, but also to
affect a cure.
Simply stated, the mission of ACGT is to identify and fund innovative scientific research into the
causes, treatment and prevention of all types of cancer, using cells and genes as medicine.
Drs. June and Sadelain were selected by ACGT’s preeminent national Scientific Advisory Council from
an exceptional group of applicants, and will each receive approximately $1 million over a period of three
to four years to support his work in clinical translation. Dr. Sadelain is Head of the Laboratory of Gene
Transfer and Gene Expression and Co-Director of the Gene Transfer and Somatic Cell Engineering
Facility at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Dr. June is Director of Translational Research at Abramson Family
Cancer Research Institute and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at University of
Drs. June and Sadelain take parallel approaches by having genetically engineered T- cells retarget their
killing power toward leukemia and lymphomas. T- cells possess strong tumor killing capacity if they are
properly directed and activated. Each Senior Investigator’s strategy is based upon strong preclinical data
that validates his clinical translation to trials in lymphoma patients. Drs. June and Sadelain use different
vectors to carry the hybrid genes into T- cells. Comparing the outcomes of clinical trials with these related
but distinct gene therapies should provide important information on how best to engineer the immune
system in its fight against leukemia and lymphoma.
WHY SUPPORT GENE THERAPY RESEARCH?
Cancer. Undoubtedly one of the most deadly diseases. According to the National Cancer Institute,
approximately 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. The American Cancer
Society defines cancer as not a single disease, but a disease that can be divided into almost 200 different
diseases. We have all been “touched” by cancer in some way – whether it is a relative, a friend, a
colleague or even ourselves. Although cancer continues to evade a universal cure, there is great promise
on the horizon: Cancer Gene Therapy.
Gene therapy is the treatment of disease by either replacing damaged or abnormal genes with normal
ones, or by providing new genes to fight disease. Additionally, gene therapy is defined as the insertion of
a functional gene into the cells of a patient to correct an inborn error of metabolism, to alter or repair an
acquired genetic abnormality, and to provide a new function to a cell.
Beyond its cancer applications, gene therapy has an array of potential uses in diseases such as cystic
fibrosis, hemophilia, sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and most recently Parkinson’s disease.
Experts agree that cancer gene therapy is an innovative form of treatment that has made great strides in
the last ten years and is in many ways a young field. Within the past decade, significant achievements
have been made and research has rapidly progressed from testing in animals to thousands of patients in
The long-term goal of cancer gene therapy is to lead to the development of discriminating cancer gene
therapy drugs that attack only cancer cells and not adversely affect the rest of the body’s normal cells.
While a cure for cancer is the end result, there are tremendous benefits in cancer gene therapy’s potential
to provide relief to current cancer patients. The intermediate steps before a cure holds tremendous value
and benefit. One of the main reasons that cancer gene therapy holds so much promise is that, unlike
chemotherapy and radiation that “kills” healthy cells and a person’s immune system, cancer gene therapy
is very selective in that only cancer cells are attacked.
Most importantly, in the field of cancer gene therapy, researchers like Dr. Savio Woo, Chairman of
ACGT’s Scientific Advisory Council, are looking to transform cancer from a disease that kills to one that
is managed – resulting in prolonged survival and improved quality of life.
Enormous progress has been made since the first cancer gene therapy clinical trial in the early 1990’s.
Cancer gene therapy is an exciting, emerging and new technology that provides hope and promise to
millions of patients suffering and dying from cancer. It is one of the 21st century’s most exciting fields
for medical research. And one of the most active new organizations devoted to fighting the war against
cancer was formed in 2001 -- ACGT which was established primarily as a way to support the research
efforts and potential offered by gene therapy as an effective, safe treatment for all cancers.
One hundred percent of all funds donated to ACGT go directly to research.
ACGT’S SCIENTIFIC STRENGTH
ACGT provides grants to scientific researchers at academic institutions throughout the United States for
specific gene therapy projects in targeted areas, including anti-angiogenesis; tumor-specific replicating
viruses and bacteria; immunology/vaccine therapy; oncogenes/suppressor oncogene/cell cycle
control/apoptosis; and tumor targeting/vector development.
ACGT’s 12-member Scientific Advisory Council consists of some of the nation’s preeminent physicians
and researchers in the field of cancer gene therapy, including Dr. Woo, a widely recognized investigator
in gene therapy, cell biology and molecular and human genetics. Dr. Woo is the Chairman of ACGT’s
Scientific Advisory Council. Adopting NIH standards into grant requirements and reviewer cycles,
ACGT is proud of its strong scientific model and its prestigious Scientific Advisory Council, all of whom
serve without financial remuneration. They include: Dr. Savio Woo, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; Dr.
Stuart Aaronson, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Lieping Chen; Johns Hopkins University; Dr. David
Cheresh, Scripps Research Institute; Dr. Judah Folkman, Harvard University; Dr. Wen-Hwa Lee,
University of California, Irvine; Dr. Michael Lotze, University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Robert Martuza,
Harvard Medical School; Dr. Frank McCormick, University of California, San Francisco; Dr. Drew
Pardoll, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, The Burnham Institute; and Dr. Thomas
Wickham, EMD Lexigen. Each member of the Council has contributed significantly to research efforts in
the field of cancer gene therapy. For example:
Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S is director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute. A native of Cambridge, England, Dr.
McCormick received his B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (1972) and his Ph.D.
in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge (1975). He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society
since 1996. In 1992 he founded Onyx Pharmaceuticals and served as its Chief Scientific Officer until
1996. Dr. McCormick's current research interests center on the fundamental differences between normal
cells and cancer cells that can allow the use of naturally occurring and engineered viruses as novel
therapeutic strategies. In addition to his position as director of the UCSF Cancer Center, Dr. McCormick
holds the David A. Wood Chair of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research in UCSF's Department of
Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. McCormick is the author of more than 200 scientific publications.
Drew Pardoll M.D., Ph.D. received his B.S., M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University.
Except for a fellowship at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland,
Dr. Pardoll has remained at Johns Hopkins as a resident, fellow and member of the faculty. Currently Dr.
Pardoll is a Professor of Medicine, Oncology, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics and Co-
Director, Division of Immunology/Hematopoiesis, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine. Dr. Pardoll serves as associate editor of the Journal of the National
Cancer Institute, Cancer Research, Molecular Therapy and Cancer Cell. He is the co-inventor of 14
patents in molecular medicine and anticancer vaccines, and the author on over 170 scientific papers in
basic and applied genetics and immunology.
David A. Cheresh, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La
Jolla, CA. Dr. Cheresh’s research focuses on gaining a basic understanding of the molecular events that
regulate blood vessel invasion during tumor angiogenesis. His research has led to the development of
specific inhibitors of adhesion receptors that are currently being tested clinically in cancer patients. Dr.
Cheresh has begun to design gene delivery strategies to target newly sprouting blood vessels in tumors.
Judah Folkman, M.D., Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA. One of the
foremost experts in the field, Professor Folkman is the founder of angiogenesis research, having made
seminal discoveries on the mechanism of angiogenesis that led to its current investigation worldwide. His
laboratory reported the first purified angiogenesis molecule, the first angiogenesis inhibitor, proposed the
concept of angiogenic disease, which has resulted in a number of clinical trials based on this research, as
well as successful drug introductions such as Avastin.
Erkki Ruoslahti, M.D., Ph.D is Distinguished Professor at The Burnham Institute and an Adjunct
Professor at the UCSD Bioengineering Department. Dr. Ruoslahti has made innovative use of libraries of
phage-displayed peptides to study the heterogeneity of the vasculature. This technology has revealed an
astonishing degree of diversity in the vascular system, including specific markers of tumor vasculature
and the vasculature of pre-malignant lesions. The RGD sequence and the new phage-derived homing
peptides show promise as targeting elements for drugs and gene therapy vectors. Dr. Ruoslahti is the
author of more than 400 research papers and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the
Institute of Medicine.
In 2 _ years, ACGT has given $6 million in research grants and wants to give more!
ACGT is committed to keeping the young, bright scientists in the field of cancer gene therapy well funded
through its Young Investigator Award and is supporting Senior Scientists with special awards relating to
research at the clinical trials phase. We are answering the call of the researchers at all levels—to keep the
field of cancer gene therapy well-funded and keep the strong investigators working.
ACGT is a non-profit, public charity that builds alliances with individuals, businesses and organizations
who share our interest and commitment to research. To learn more information about ACGT, please visit
our website at www.acgtfoundation.org. Also, please call ACGT at 203 358-8000 ext. 495.
Together we can transform cancer from a disease that kills to a disease that’s managed,
resulting in prolonged survival & improved quality of life!