STAMFORD, Conn., Dec. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the potential of gene and cell therapy in fighting cancers grows and oncologists across the nation explore the burgeoning science, doctors have uncovered a stunning development – cancers can be treated using patients' own cells as a weapon, and can eliminate the harrowing, often debilitating effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Pioneers like Dr. Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Michel Sadelain of Memorial Sloan-Kettering have led breakthrough gene therapy trials with staggering results. Dr. June's work using genetically engineered T-cells placed 25 adult and pediatric patients with advanced leukemia in complete remission, and saved the life of six-year-old Emma Whitehead, as reported by The New York Times. Dr. Sadelain recently led a groundbreaking immunotherapy clinical trial for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and all five patients with relapsed B cell ALL are in complete remission.
Despite these resounding successes, however, a surprising dearth of public funding remains. Government grants, hampered by sequestration and slashed budgets, are unable to adequately support gene and cell therapy research.
Fortunately, Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) is able to act as a funding engine, providing nearly $25 million in grants to date.
ACGT is the only charity in the nation dedicated exclusively to cell and gene therapies for cancer. The Stamford, CT-based ACGT began supporting gene and cell cancer research in 2001 – when the still-growing science was in its most nascent stages – and has delivered major grants to oncology visionaries like Dr. June and Dr. Sadelain. Recently, the foundation granted $500,000 to esteemed researcher Dr. John Bell of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada to explore oncolytic viruses – man-made viruses that target only cancer cells.
ACGT was created by Barbara and Edward Netter after the Greenwich couple lost their daughter-in-law to breast cancer. Since Edward's passing in 2011, Barbara Netter has led the foundation as President and Co-Founder, continuing her husband's vision.
"This is a new, inspiring age in cancer treatment," said Barbara Netter at an ACGT event at the Harvard Club in Manhattan this past October. "We have an outstanding Scientific Advisory Council – the brightest minds in their fields, who help guide our grant selection."
"We are on the cusp of a golden age of cancer prevention and treatment thanks to the promise of gene and cell therapy," added Dr. Michel Sadelain. "In the world of cancer treatment, it's not easy to reconcile potency and safety. But gene and cell therapy strives to do that."
Select Grants (from a total of almost $25 million)
- 2013, Dr. John Bell, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: Oncolytic virus brain cancer research
- 2012, Dr. Herbert J. Zeh, University of Pittsburgh: Immune-mediated gene therapy pancreatic cancer research
- 2008, Dr. Carl June, University of Pennsylvania: Immune-mediated gene therapy ovarian cancer research
- 2004, Dr. Carl June, University of Pennsylvania: Immune-mediated gene therapy lymphoma/leukemia research
- 2004, Dr. Michel Sadelain, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Immune-mediated gene therapy lymphoma/leukemia research
About Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT)
Established in 2001, ACGT (www.acgtfoundation.org) is the nation's only not-for-profit exclusively dedicated to cancer cell and gene therapy treatments for all types of cancer. One-hundred percent of contributions go directly to research. ACGT has funded 42 grants in the U.S. and Canada since its founding in 2001 by Barbara Netter and her late husband, Edward, to conduct and accelerate critically needed innovative research for all types of cancer. ACGT's Scientific Advisory Council is comprised of 16 of the nation's most distinguished physicians and researchers in cell and gene therapy, who thoroughly review all grants. Since its inception, ACGT has awarded 27 grants to Young Investigators and 15 grants to Clinical Investigators, totaling $24.2 million in funding. Barbara Netter, as President, together with other members of the Board of Directors, are fully committed to ACGT's continued support of this research. ACGT is located at 96 Cummings Point Road, Stamford, CT 06902.
Kevin Zawacki / email@example.com
SOURCE Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy