Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.
Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Hard-to-treat cancers are focus of Cancer Research Institute grants

Cancer Research Institute Logo

Summer 2024
By Kathy Clute

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) has awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants to Dana-Farber in support of investigations into how immunotherapy can be used to defeat difficult-to-treat and incurable cancers.

Founded in 1953 to fuel discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all cancers, the New York-based organization has invested $515 million in research scientists around the globe. In 2023, it awarded a multiyear Lloyd J. Old STAR grant to Dana-Farber pediatric oncologist Robbie Majzner, MD, for his work to identify and test new immunotherapies for children with cancer. And it chose Maxime Meylan, PhD, for a CRI Immuno-Informatics Fellowship for early career scientists.

Majzner’s research has three main goals: to develop and deploy safer and more effective chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells; to explore the biology of GD2, a little-understood sugar expressed on the tumor cells of certain childhood cancers that suppresses immune function; and to conduct early phase clinical trials of immunotherapies in children.

CAR T cells have revolutionized the treatment of bloodborne cancers, but have yet to show substantial benefits in patients who have solid tumors. By studying how these cells propagate their internal signals, Majzner’s lab has co-opted molecules from inside the cell to alter the efficacy and specificity of these powerful therapeutics.

“Scientific research is the key to finding the answer to all forms of cancer.”

Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, Cancer Research Institute

Pediatric oncologists have been targeting GD2 for more than two decades, but how it is regulated has not been well understood. Majzner is investigating its biology and how anti- GD2 therapies might be effectively deployed against a wide range of cancers.

“My goal is to utilize basic biologic discoveries to develop effective immunotherapies for children with cancer—especially those that are now considered incurable,” said Majzner.

Meylan, an immunologist and computational biologist, is researching the factors that influence treatment effectiveness in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is aggressive and difficult to treat.

He will use advanced imaging techniques to study the different types of tumor cells and immune cells within TNBC tumors and how they interact with each other. Using biopsies taken before and after treatment, he will document how the tumors have changed. This may yield new ways to treat the cancer.

“Scientific research is the key to finding the answer to all forms of cancer,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, CRI’s chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs. “The work Drs. Majzner and Meylan are doing holds great promise, and I look forward to seeing how their discoveries will benefit patients in Boston and beyond.”

, , ,
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap