Baylor and TCH researchers honored with AACR Team Science Award

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has recognized the St. Baldrick’s Foundation-Stand Up To Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team with the 2021 AACR Team Science Award. Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer Center team leader Dr. Nabil Ahmed, and researchers Dr. Meenakshi Hegde, Dr. Sujith Joseph and Dr. Will Parsons are among those recognized. Bambi Grilley and Melanie Frost Moll were also recognized for their contributions to the team as advocates of childhood cancer research.

In early 2013, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) teamed up to create a Pediatric Cancer Dream Team to help develop new approaches to immunotherapy for high-risk childhood cancers. The collaboration has resulted in 319 peer-reviewed published manuscripts, 44 patent applications, the generation of more than $ 118 million in additional grants, the creation of a new pediatric clinical trial network, and the treatment of more than 1,113 early-stage children. clinical trials.

“The creation of the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team created unprecedented synergy between genomics and immunotherapy between several major institutions at the forefront of the field,” said Ahmed, associate professor of pediatrics – hematology and oncology at Baylor and Texas Children’s and scientist at Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy. “This network effectively enabled scientific discoveries in all disciplines in its most profound form, and, most importantly, it enabled the rapid translation of these discoveries to the clinic, giving hope to children with incurable cancer.”

As part of the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, the Baylor team discovered intra- and inter-tumor heterogeneity in glioblastoma, leading to a critical mechanism of immune escape called antigen escape. Consequently, the Baylor team described first-class bivalent CAR molecules capable of recognizing targets in tandem called TanCAR, as well as bivalent and trivalent CAR T cells to fight glioblastoma and leukemia, treating and preventing antigen escape. A trivalent CAR T cell product is now in preparation for a clinical trial in leukemia, the TriCAR ALL trial. Together with the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the Baylor team discovered how locoregional administration of CAR T cells is more effective and likely less toxic than intravenous administration. A clinical trial, iCAR, is now recruiting patients based on this concept.

The team has since opened several clinical trials for pediatric solid tumors. In particular, the Baylor team started the HEROS clinical trial series. HEROS has established the safety of HER2-targeted CAR T cells in pediatric sarcoma. HEROS 2.0 demonstrated sustained complete remissions in osteosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma and showed that CAR T cells can have a ‘vaccine’ effect that awakens the patient’s own immune system response to fight the tumor. HEROS 3.0 will recruit next time and unleash this immune response through checkpoint blocking antibodies. In addition, the Baylor team has conducted clinical studies on brain tumors, treated glioblastoma through the HER-GBM study, and used locoregional delivery in the ongoing iCAR study for several other incurable brain cancers.

The AACR Team Science Award recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary team of researchers for their innovative and meritorious science that has advanced or can advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer, or a team that has applied existing knowledge to the detection, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of cancer. promote. . Read more about this year’s winners here.

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