“This is a very exciting time for cancer therapy,” said assistant research professor Saul Priceman, Ph.D. “The progress we’ve made highlights the tremendous potential, still in its infancy, that’s yet to be realized.”
The need is clear. Localized prostate cancer has a five-year survival rate of nearly 99 percent, but when prostate cancer spreads throughout the body, the surival rate drops to 28 percent. The disease kills more than 26,000 men each year.
Much of the new excitement is focused on immunotherapy, especially T cells genetically engineered to produce chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, which attack cancer cells with matching antigens. When researchers unleashed CAR-T cells on the CD19 antigen in leukemia and lymphoma, “the responses were so complete, it was staggering,” Priceman said. “There’s never been such a robust therapy for blood cancers.”
As a group leader in City of Hope’s T cell Therapeutic Research Laboratory, led by Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, Priceman’s mission is to achieve comparable success targeting harder-to-pinpoint antigens in solid tumors, particularly for prostate cancer. The team has identified an appropriate target, and a human clinical trial is projected for early 2017.
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