Yale Cancer Center receives ACGT grant to advance strategies for treating pancreatic cancer.

Oct 06, 2020

STAMFORD, Conn. — With a $500,000 Research Grant from Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), Sidi Chen, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Genetics and Systems Biology Institute at Yale School of Medicine and member of Yale Cancer Center, will advance a versatile and highly scalable strategy he’s been developing and calling MAEGI — Multiplexed Activation of Endogenous Genes as an Immunotherapy.

“Cell and gene therapies that leverage the natural power of the immune system are extending lives and improving quality of lives,” says Dr. Chen. “A number of approaches are being tested and employed today. All of them offer promise in the fight against solid tumors, but none are perfect.”

“The ACGT Scientific Advisory Council finds Dr. Chen’s MAEGI technology to be unique and exciting because it simultaneously targets multiple differences and activates multiple immune system responses,” says Kevin Honeycutt, CEO and president of ACGT. “It has proven to be very effective in animal models. We believe our support will enable its advancement into the clinic where it would have major, life-saving impact on pancreatic and other difficult-to-treat cancers, such as melanoma, glioblastoma and triple negative breast cancer.”

ACGT has been instrumental in funding some of the decade’s most transformative research, including breakthroughs in the use of CAR T-cell gene therapy for leukemia by the University of Pennsylvania’s Carl H. June, MD. “Dr. June received his first ACGT grant in 2004 and a second in 2008, back when gene therapy was considered a risky proposition,” says Honeycutt. “Fast forward to today and the field has changed dramatically with major pharmaceutical companies and research institutions vying for the next big discovery using gene therapy or immunotherapy.”

Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT)
For 20 years, ACGT has funded research that is bringing innovative treatment options to people living with deadly cancers — treatments that save lives and offer new hope to all cancer patients. ACGT funds researchers who are pioneering the potential of cancer cell and gene therapy — talented visionaries whose scientific advancements are driving the development of groundbreaking treatments for ovarian, prostate, sarcoma, glioblastoma, melanoma and pancreatic cancers. 100% of all public funds raised by ACGT directly support research. For more information, visit acgtfoundation.org, call 203-358-5055, or join the ACGT community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

About Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital
Yale Cancer Center (YCC) is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation and the only such center in Connecticut. Cancer treatment for patients is available at Smilow Cancer Hospital through 13 multidisciplinary teams and at 15 Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Comprehensive cancer centers play a vital role in the advancement of the NCI’s goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer through scientific research, cancer prevention, and innovative cancer treatment.