PHILADELPHIA – Carl June, MD, Director of Translational Research at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in Penn’s School of Medicine, has received $1 million over the next three years from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, Inc. (ACGT) to harness the immune system to fight the worst cases of ovarian cancer.
Carl June, MD
As the only national foundation devoted exclusively to funding cancer gene therapy research, the mission of ACGT is to identify and fund innovative scientific research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of all types of cancer, using cells and genes as medicine. The award is entitled The Joan Miller and Linda Bernstein Gene Therapy Ovarian Cancer Award.
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer death, and though most patients respond to initial chemotherapy, the majority will eventually relapse and die of chemotherapy-resistant disease. Despite the advent of newer chemotherapies, the five-year survival for patients with advanced disease remains only 25 percent, and few patients are cured.
“With this grant from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy we plan to carry out a Phase 1 clinical trial to test whether the immune cells we designed to withstand the toxic effects of ovarian tumors are able to mediate tumor regression in patients with advanced cancer that has failed to regress after chemotherapy,” says June. In preliminary studies, June’s group has developed genetically engineered T cells to augment traditional treatments. The engineered T cells have eradicated large tumors in pre-clinical experiments with animals.
June was selected by ACGT’s 12-member Scientific Advisory Council, which includes some of the nation’s most preeminent physicians and researchers in cancer gene therapy.
PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals — its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top 10 “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; three multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.
The Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) of the University of Pennsylvania is a national leader in cancer research, patient care, and education. The pre-eminent position of the Cancer Center is reflected in its continuous designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute for 30 years, one of 39 such Centers in the United States. The ACC is dedicated to innovative and compassionate cancer care. The clinical program, composed of a dedicated staff of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, nutritionists and patient support specialists, currently sees over 50,000 outpatient visits, 3400 inpatient admissions, and provides over 25,000 chemotherapy treatments, and more than 65,000 radiation treatments annually. Not only is the ACC dedicated to providing state-of-the-art cancer care, the latest forms of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are available to our patients through clinical themes that developed in the relentless pursuit to eliminate the pain and suffering from cancer. In addition, the ACC is home to the 300 research scientists who work relentlessly to determine the pathogenesis of cancer. Together, the faculty is committed to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.