Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have been awarded close to $12,000,000 through a New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM). The money will be dedicated to help combat ovarian cancer, through further developing stem-cell based therapies. The effort is based around adoptive T-cell therapy, which essentially re-engineers stem cells found in the patient’s blood. The modified stem cells are then released back into the patient’s body, where they are able to recognize and combat cancer cells.
“New York is home to some of the best researchers across the globe, and this funding will help ensure they can do the necessary work to grow our progress in stem cell science,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in announcing the awards on Jan. 12. “This state is proud to be a leader in the health industry, and with this funding we will continue to develop modern, world-class research programs that work to make people worldwide healthier.”
The extraordinary effort is being led by Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, and M. Steven Piver, Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Executive Director of the Center for Immunotherapy, whose research team believes that the method can eradicate existing cancer while preventing new cells from forming.
“This project represents a potentially paradigm-shifting approach in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer, because we will be generating billions of these antitumor effector cells — to continually control existing tumors and minimize the chance of relapse,” said Dr. Odunsi, who is also Co-Leader of Roswell Park’s Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program and a Professor of Gynecology & Obstetrics at the University at Buffalo (UB). “Reprograming adult hematopoietic stem cells for sustained attack against ovarian cancer is, to our knowledge, a completely new approach.”
“This Roswell Park-developed, Roswell Park-led initiative is just the latest example of the ingenuity Dr. Odunsi and his team bring to the pressing challenge of how to develop better and more effective therapies for cancer,” said Candace Johnson, PhD, President & CEO and Cancer Center Director at Roswell Park. “We are enormously grateful for the leadership Gov. Cuomo and NYSTEM have shown in dedicating these funds strategically to address high-priority medical issues, and to the numerous individual and corporate donors whose contributions to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation enabled the laboratory advances that Dr. Odunsi and his team will now be able to bring to patients.”
Lead image: Kunle Odunsi