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Last Updated: 09/23/2019

NCI Announces Support for Research in Cell-based Immunotherapies of Human Cancer

Cell-based immunotherapies have shown great promise for cancer patients in recent decades; however, the number of patients and cancers in which these therapies have proven efficacious is relatively low. In addition, preparation of cell-based immunotherapies is time consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive because of their personalized nature, and as a result, these therapies have not been adopted broadly.

A long-term goal of the NCI is to promote greater efficacy and broad-based adoption of cell-based immunotherapies for both hematological and solid tumors. NCI is now providing supplemental funding to P30 Cancer Center Support Grants and P50 Specialized Programs of Research Excellence Grants to perform developmental and preclinical research that addresses specific challenges in cell-based immunotherapies.

The concept for this support resulted from a request to the extramural community for input at the December 2018 Workshop on Cell-based Immunotherapy for Solid Tumors. The goals of the workshop were to review successes and challenges of adoptive cell therapies for hematological malignancies and to examine current use of cell therapies in solid tumors. In addition, clinical development issues and technology and regulatory challenges were discussed, which ultimately led to NCI’s interest in providing supplemental support to address the following challenges:

  • identification of new targets for cell-based immunotherapy of solid tumors
  • increasing efficacy and/or safety of cell-based immunotherapies using known or new targets
  • technology development to improve the ability to conduct multicenter trials with immune cell therapies
  • improving vectors and their production and yield
  • increasing immune cell yield
  • reducing off-tumor (toxic) effects
  • strategies to address low or heterogeneous target expression
  • improving therapeutic immune cell persistence and persistent functionality
  • optimizing therapeutic immune cell trafficking to target tumor cells
  • overcoming the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment of solid tumors
  • overcoming resistance mechanisms

Cell-based Immunotherapy Supplement Grantees

Project PI Institution Project Topic
Christian Capitini University of Wisconsin Image-guided CAR T cell therapy for neuroblastoma
Madhav Dhodapkar Emory University Novel antigen discovery for CAR T cell therapy of multiple myeloma
Dan Kaufman University of California, San Diego Targeted cancer immunotherapy using natural killer cells engineered with a switchable chimeric antigen receptor system
Yong Lu Wake Forest School of Medicine CAR Th9 cells to address antigen loss resistance in adoptive cell therapy
Crystal Mackall Stanford University Developing methods for clinical scale A2AR gene editing of CAR T cells to enhance efficacy against solid tumors
Cliona Rooney Baylor College of Medicine Enhancing the expansion and persistence of allogeneic therapeutic T-cells by expression of a CD30.CAR