COLUMBUS, Ohio – Immunotherapy treatments for breast cancer, targeted therapy for the most aggressive form of brain tumor and addressing depression among lung cancer survivors are among the topics tackled in new studies supported with funds from Pelotonia.
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute
has funded five more faculty-led team high-risk, high reward research studies through its Pelotonia Idea Grant Program. Since Pelotonia’s
inception, the effort has allowed the OSUCCC – James to fund hundreds of faculty-led pilot research projectsacross 11 colleges and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Projects span laboratory research in cells and tissue to increase foundational knowledge about cancer development and progression to clinical trials that evaluate new treatment approaches in humans.
New Idea grant projects include:
Combination therapy to improve breast cancer treatment response
Investigators: Margaret Gatti-Mays, MD; Dean Lee, MD, PhD; Zihai Li, MD, PhD, Daniel Stover, MD, Sumithira Vasu, MBBS
Immunotherapy has had limited success against breast cancers because breast tumors use tactics to distract and inactivate immune cells, including natural killer (NK) cells. For this study, researchers will conduct a clinical trial to test whether combining NK cells from healthy patients with an antibody against a protein found on many breast cancers (naxitamab) and a chemotherapy drug (gemcitabine) can improve clinical responses.
Early-stage clinical trial tests triple-target CAR-T therapy
Investigators: Lapo Alinari, MD, PhD; Wing Chan, PhD; Marcos de Lima, MD; Sumithira Vasu, MBBS; Bradley Blaser, MD, PhD; Nathan Denlinger, DO; Aharon Freud, MD, PhD; Xiaoli Zhang, PhD
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapy, which uses a patient’s own modified T cells to kill tumor cells, has changed the treatment landscape of B-cell malignancies. For this first-in-human experimental clinical trial, researchers will test CAR-T cells manufactured in-house at the OSUCCC - James that simultaneously target three proteins in patients with B-cell malignancies in hopes of improving treatment response. Other CAR-T treatment products available on the market target single-proteins.
Identifying molecular ‘gas pedals’ that boost cancer immunotherapy response
Investigators: Andreas Wieland, PhD; Zihai Li, MD, PhD; James Rocco, MD, PhD; Mark Rubinstein, PhD
Cancer hijacks the body’s natural immune system response and allows cancer cells to grow unchecked. A class of immunotherapy known as immune checkpoint inhibitors can stop this process and help the immune system to again recognize cancer cells; however, most patients do not respond to ICI therapy. OSUCCC – James researchers have shown through preclinical models that successful ICI therapy depends on additional positive signals that act as “gas pedals” to boost antitumor responses. In this study, researchers aim to specifically identify the positive molecular signals that tumor-specific immune cells need to best recognize and address the cancerous cells.
New treatment strategy for aggressive form of brain cancer
Investigators: Nandini Acharya, PhD, Maciej Pietrzak, PhD, Erica Bell, PhD, Zihai Li, MD, PhD, Pierre Giglio, MD, Benjamin Segal, MD, Ramesh Ganju, PhD
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive form of cancerous brain tumor, with limited survival. These researchers have identified a neuropeptide called CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) as a potential new therapeutic target for GBM. In previous work, they found that blocking the CGRP pathway can boost antitumor immunity. In this study, researchers will seek to understand how CGRP interferes with “normal” immune system actions and contribute to cancer growth and develop more effective ways to stop it. Since CGRP blocker drugs are already FDA-approved, the researchers believe this work could quickly revolutionize GBM treatment.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy for treatment of depression in patients with lung cancer
Investigators: Theodore Wagener, PhD, Barbara Andersen, PhD, Alan Davis, PhD
Patients with lung cancer are more likely than other cancer patients to experience depression, anxiety and feelings of despair that sometimes lead to suicide. Current talk therapies and medications are limited, require intensive therapy or cause significant side effects. Recent research shows that psychedelic medicines combined with talk therapy could greatly improve cancer-related depression. In this study, researchers will test the safety and acceptability of two psychedelic medicines and see how they affect symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with lung cancer.