Thea Friedman, M.D., associate scientist and director of oncology basic research at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center was recently awarded a National Cancer Institutes of Health-National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) RO1 research grant to improve allogeneic blood and marrow transplantation for multiple myeloma patients. The grant provides $2 million in funding over the next five years.

As part of the John Theurer Cancer Center's continued efforts to improve outcomes of blood and marrow transplantation, Dr. Friedman and her colleagues have been using a molecular technique called T cell receptor Vβ CDR3 spectratype analysis to look at T-cell repertoires for the purpose of separating the donor cells responsible for graft-versus-host disease from those mediating graft-versus-tumor responses. Once separated, Dr. Friedman and her team will come closer to "personalized" transplantation, a huge milestone for the multiple myeloma community.

"This significant funding provided by the NIH is instrumental to further our blood and marrow transplant research," said Dr. Friedman. "We look forward to the possibility of using personalized transplantation to better the lives of cancer patients in our community and around the world."

The ROI research is the original and oldest grant mechanism used by NIH. The RO1 applications are peer reviewed and only those scoring above the 15th percentile are awarded. Last year, only 25 percent of the 50,000 applications were awarded a grant.

"The John Theurer Cancer Center constantly strives to provide the medical community with the latest advancements and innovations in oncology," said Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.P.E., chief innovations officer and professor and vice president of cancer services, the John Theurer Cancer Center. "Dr. Friedman and her colleagues' research is just one example of our commitment to advance innovative and treatment options in this fight against cancer."

Dr. Friedman first began this body of research in 2000 when she received a grant award from the National Marrow Donor Program. She applied for her first RO1 grant, which she was awarded in July 2003.

Dr. Friedman and her team plan to move their transplant research into a Phase I clinical trial in late 2011. Collaborators from the John Theurer Cancer Center include Robert Korngold, Ph.D., chief of oncology basic research; Scott Rowley, M.D., co-chief of blood and bone marrow stem cell & transplantation; David Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., chief of multiple myeloma and Michele Donato, M.D., collection facility medical director, blood & marrow transplantation.

In January 2011, the John Theurer Cancer Center's team of expert physicians, researchers and staff will begin transitioning into a new, $130-million comprehensive care facility. The new facility is equipped with a dedicated Phase 1 unit, tumor banking, new modalities of delivery of radiation and future molecular imaging technology to further support the development of innovative therapies and approaches to improve patient outcomes.

Source:
Jaymie DeGaetano
John Theurer Cancer Center

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