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National Cancer Institute Announces $10.7 Million Grant for Mesothelioma Research

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has announced that it will fund research by the Translational Center of Excellence for Lung Cancer Immunology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. According to Penn Medicine News, the $10.7 million new program project grant “will support research into improving the effectiveness of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy at fighting solid tumors. Specifically, the program will evaluate approaches in lung cancer and mesothelioma.”

Steven M. Albelda, MD, Principal Investigator for the program, William Maul Measey Professor of Medicine, and member of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center said, “although CAR T cells have revolutionized the treatment of leukemia and bone marrow cancers, we have not yet had the same success in treating solid tumors like lung cancer.”

“The goal of this program project is to solve this problem, and we’re grateful to the NCI for supporting our efforts to expand this approach to more patients around the world,” he said.

The National Cancer Institute is the federal government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The Institute drives the cancer research enterprise by supporting and convening researchers, paying for facilities and systems, coordinating the National Cancer Plan, and more. The NCI team of approximately 3,500 is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of 11 agencies that make up the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The grant will include three interrelated projects that will focus on exploring the ability of CAR T cells to stimulate other immune cells to respond against the tumor in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The project will also explore ways in which CARs can be combined with other therapies to enhance efficacy.

“The stakes of these projects are incredibly high,” says Albelda. “Achieving the success rates for CAR T therapy in solid tumors that we’ve already seen in leukemia and lymphoma would be a major paradigm shift in the treatment of these cancers.”

Other Penn researchers involved in the project include Charu Aggarwal, Beatriz Carreno, Andrew R. Haas, Wei-Ting Hwang, Carl June, Simon Lacey, Corey Langer, Gerald Linette, Leslie Litzky, and Ellen Puré.

The $10.7 million NCI grant will support Albelda and his team’s research for the next five years.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, talk to your doctor about innovative treatments such as CAR T cell therapy. New or experimental therapies such as this could be helpful in treating your specific type of mesothelioma. Talk to your doctor about all of your options today.



“Abramson Cancer Center receives $10.7 million to study CAR T cells in solid tumors.” Penn Today Health Sciences. Office of University Communications, Penn State University, Perelman School of Medicine, 22 Oct. 2018. Web. 07 Jan. 2019.

Infanti, John. "Abramson Cancer Center Receives $10.7 Million to Study CAR T Cells in Solid Tumors." Penn Medicine News. Office of University Communications, Penn State University, 22 Oct. 2018. Web. 07 Jan. 2019.

National Cancer Institute. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), 06 Apr. 2018. Web. 07 Jan. 2019.