November 2021 Newsletter.
Welcome to our November 2021 newsletter.
Pancreatic and Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy’s current funding priorities focus on new curative strategies for two difficult-to-treat solid tumor cancers.
Pancreatic cancer grows and metastasizes quickly and is often diagnosed in its late stages, making it exceptionally difficult to treat. It is ranked as the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. with no significant changes in patient survival rates in the past 10 years. At ACGT, we believe tackling pancreatic cancer will lead to breakthroughs across all cancers. Read about some of our current pancreatic cancer research being conducted by ACGT Research Fellows Sidi Chen, PhD (Yale University School of Medicine) and Matthias Stephan, MD (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center).
Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer). ACGT Research Fellow Brian Brown, PhD (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) is working to target macrophages to turn tumors hot and enhance immunotherapy for lung cancer. Macrophages are part of the immune system and have a function in protecting us from infections. Says Brown, “What makes this particularly exciting is that immune-suppressive macrophages are common to many types of tumors, so even though our research targets lung cancer, our approach may be effective in treating many different types of cancer.”
Scientific Advisory Council member profile.
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy’s current portfolio of solid tumor research is guided by the Chair of the ACGT Scientific Advisory Council, Michael T. Lotze, MD, who is currently Chief Cellular Therapy Officer at Nurix Therapeutics and professor of surgery, immunology and bioengineering at University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center. A leading clinician scientist with more than 30 years of experience in immunology and clinical medicine, Dr. Lotze dedicates his efforts to the advancement of translational research, particularly in immunotherapy for cancer including dendritic cell, T-cell and cytokine therapies. His expertise in understanding the complexities of developing cell and gene therapies for pancreatic cancer, alongside those of his colleagues on the Scientific Advisory Council, is unmatched.
On Nov. 13, Dr. Lotze will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).
Family Foundations make a big impact.
ACGT has recently received a generous $50,000 gift from a family foundation to help support cutting edge cell and gene therapy research in pancreatic cancer! This gift represented a 150% increase over previous years. The foundation reported, “We feel that ACGT is on the verge of making a tremendous impact to bring new and effective treatments for pancreatic cancer.” They also said an important factor in their funding decision was that 100% of their gift would directly support research – a unique feature of ACGT.
A 2020 study conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy noted that family foundations with less than $50M in assets represent 98% of all foundations – the vast majority in the United States. The endowments of many of these foundations grew by double digits in 2020 and, as a result, family foundations have increased their giving overall, have consistently donated above the minimum 5% requirement of assets, and have expanded their giving beyond their previously stated areas of interest. However, most family foundations do not accept unsolicited requests. Fifty-eight percent of foundations said it was essential that “someone I know and respect is closely involved or has asked me to support the organization.”
This is how you can help!
If you or someone you know has a family foundation, please consider funding ACGT’s innovative research. Please consider introducing ACGT to family foundations you may be connected to via family and friends! Share your personal experience of being an ACGT donor and ask them to partner with us to create a cancer-free future.
In the news
The latest from around the cancer cell and gene therapy research world.
The world’s first oncolytic virus therapy for malignant glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, has launched in Japan. Daiichi Sankyo developed DELYTACT in collaboration with Professor Tomoki Todo of the Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo. Professor Todo presented his work on DELYTACT at the International Oncolytic Virus Conference Nov. 5-7 hosted by ACGT SAC members Drs. John Bell and Stephen Russell and attended by SAC members Drs. Nori Kasahara and Joe Glorioso and ACGT Chief Program Officer Barbara Lavery. The conference included more than 35 presentations including eight companies and clincial trial updates by leaders in this evolving area of cancer cell and gene therapy.
On Oct. 12-14, ACGT participated in the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa, an annual gathering of more than 1,700 leading companies and investors at the vanguard of cell and gene therapies organized by the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine. The meeting included a panel discussion featuring ACGT board member Gbola Amusa, MD, Partner and Chief Scientific Officer, Chardan, entitled “What Cell and Gene Therapy Investors Are Looking For Now.”
On Nov. 1, Legend Biotech and Janssen announced the extension of the FDA approval decision for BCMA CAR-T Ciltacabtagene Autoleucel for the treatment of adults with relapsed and/or refractory multiple myeloma. The decision date had previously been expected in November.
ACGT will host a breakfast gathering at the Annual Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Conference, held in Washington D.C., Nov. 10-14. ACGT Scientific Advisory Council Chair Michael Lotze, MD, will be awarded a SITC lifetime achievement award during the conference.