|Dollars donated to ThinkCure support innovative studies at City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. (Photo by Patrick Gee/Los Angeles Dodgers)|
, the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has awarded $600,000 in research grants to City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. The one-year grants support research aimed at developing new therapies to treat brain tumors, gene therapy for lymphoma and a vaccine for leukemia.
The awards are the first research-specific grants presented by ThinkCure.
Two studies each received $200,000 collaborative grants for researchers from both City of Hope and Childrens Hospital. The grants will fund research focused on STAT3 inhibitors and neural stem cells.
STAT3, short for signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, is a gene that is active in cancer tumors and enables tumor growth while turning off the body’s natural immune response. Hua Yu, Ph.D., professor of cancer immunotherapeutics and tumor immunology at City of Hope, and Robert Seeger, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Childrens Hospital, together are examining how the protein interleukin-6 may affect STAT3 activity in neuroblastoma. This cancer of the nervous system occurs most commonly in infants and young children.
Neural stem cells are a type of stem cells that reside in the brain and have the natural ability to travel to tumor sites. Karen Aboody, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantaiton and the Division of Neurosciences at City of Hope, has conducted extensive research in using neural stem cells to deliver therapeutic molecules directly to brain tumor sites. Aboody and Rex Moats, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and radiology at Childrens Hospital, are refining a system to track the neural stem cells to verify that they are reaching the tumor site, which will help establish the most effective treatment cell dosages.
|Photo of Karen Aboody|
In addition to the collaborative grants, four investigators were awarded $50,000 seed grants for early-stage research that may develop into promising new treatments. Three of the scientists are from City of Hope.
|Photo of Behnam Badie|
Behnam Badie, M.D., director of the Brain Tumor Program at City of Hope, aims to expand the use of nanotubes to treat brain tumors. Brain tumors can shut down the body’s immune response, allowing cancer to grow. Laboratory studies have shown that tiny, engineered molecules called nanotubes can effectively deliver a therapeutic gene that reactivates immune cells called macrophages, making them recognize and destroy tumor cells.
|Photo of John Rossi|
John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at City of Hope, is leading research to treat lymphoma using small pieces of genetic material called siRNA, which can target genes and turn them off. The study focuses on attaching proteins to the siRNA that, in turn, latch onto proteins found specifically on lymphoma cells, improving the siRNA’s ability to turn off defective genes in the cancerous cells.
Don J. Diamond, Ph.D., director of translational vaccine research at City of Hope, is leading the development of a vaccine for leukemia. Certain types of leukemia lead to the creation of an antigen to the Wilms Tumor 1 gene, or WT1, which is involved in leukemia. The vaccine, targeted to WT1 antigens, may help stimulate and strengthen the body’s immune response against leukemia cells.
Anat Erdreich-Epstein, Ph.D., director of basic and translational pediatric brain tumor research at Childrens Hospital, is leading research to explore the role played by a gene called insulin-like growth factor BP2 in the development of medullablastoma, one of the most common brain cancers in children.
“City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles have a history of collaborative research aimed at improving treatments for children and adults suffering from cancer,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “The funding from ThinkCure adds momentum and resources to further facilitate those collaborations, advance promising research and bring new treatments to patients who need them.”
|Photo of Hua Yu|
ThinkCure’s scientific advisory panel evaluates and prioritizes research proposals, with an emphasis toward collaborative research. Research may be laboratory-based, translational or clinical, and grants are awarded annually.