Gene therapy is a new and innovative approach to cancer treatment. Basically it introduces a new gene to re-programme T-cells, the white blood cells of the immune system, so that they target and destroy cancer cells. This new gene is known as a ‘CAR.’
Dr Astero Klabatsa a scientist working at King’s College London received JHMRF funding for a one year study the investigate the use of a harmless virus to deliver two CAR genes into T-cells from the blood of mesothelioma patients. She completed her experiments in August this year. Astero found that the new genes did give the immune cells the ability to attack mesothelioma cells and she also showed that it is feasible to grow the cells in the laboratory to produce a sufficient ‘dose’ of cells that could be used to treat an adult patient.
This study paves the way for clinical testing in patients with mesothelioma in the near future.
The JHMRF awarded two PhD fellowships in the 2014 – 15 funding round. The Stennett Fellow, Dr Suzanne Graef, was appointed in January 2015. She will work under the supervision of Professor Gary Middleton. This project will deliver the first comprehensive analysis of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in mesothelioma and the effects of therapies aimed at targeting them. This fellowship offers a unique training opportunity in translational cancer immunology.
A PhD fellowship in organic chemistry has been established as a result of the ongoing fund raising partnership between the JHMRF and the University of Greenwich. Perry Devo was appointed in October 2014 to work under the supervision of Professor Adrian Dobbs. He will refine and test a compound that has been shown to prevent proliferation of mesothelioma cells in tissue samples.
The JHMRF is thrilled to be in a position to support these exciting new research projects. Trustee Dr.Kate Hill, who manages the research activity of the fund commented “Thanks to the generosity of our donors over £1.5 million has been raised in the 18 years since the fund was founded in June’s memory; the 2014 awards will take us close to nearly £1million of that total sum being dispersed to research teams across the UK. We are a small charity but our growing portfolio of research proves that we can make a difference.”