UCLA receives $12M grant for novel, late-stage lung cancer treatment

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded a $12 million grant to initiate phase 1 clinical trials of a new treatment for advanced stage lung cancer to research teams led by Steven Dubinett, director of the UCLA CTSI and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s lung cancer research program, and Edward Garon, associate professor of hematology and oncology at UCLA.

Researchers will inject patients’ lung cancer tumors with a combination of pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy drug, and the patient’s own immune cells—specifically, dendritic cells—with the intent to more effectively assist T cells in recognizing and responding to the cancer. These dendritic cells will be genetically modified with CCL21, a molecule which attracts T cells into the tumor as demonstrated in a previous trial led by Dubinett that involved injecting patients with their own CCL21-modified dendritic cells. This CIRM-funded combination therapy trial is intended to prove even more effective in part because of pembrolizumab’s ability to block a T cell-inhibiting protein called PD-L1.

The trial is also supported by BSCRC and the CIRM-funded UCLA-UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic.

Further reading:

Press release from the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research (BSCRC).

Daily Bruin

Image caption: From left: UCLA Steven M. Dubinett and Edward Garon of UCLA.

Image source: UCLA Health