Researchers from the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center have been awarded a $600,000 grant to study of new cancer immunotherapy-related drugs.
The grant, awarded by the V Foundation for Cancer Research, is a transitional grant that will be awarded over a period of three years and will allow the researchers to review medications designed to break the body's resistance to cancer immunotherapy, according to school press release.
The team of researchers, led by Judith Varner, UC San Diego School of Medicine pathology and medicine professor, will incorporate research the team has already published based on identifying the PI-3 kinase gamma enzyme as a molecular switch controlling immune suppression.
“Check-point inhibitors have received a great deal of attention because they have saved the lives of some people with advanced cancer, but these drugs have not worked in most people,” Varner said in the release. "Our work identifies a path to turn off immune suppression. And we have the drug that can do it, as demonstrated in animal models of cancer.”
Dr. Ezra Cohen, head of San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy at UC San Diego Health, said in the release that the research could help medical professionals determine which patients can take advantage of this kind of treatment.
“This study could lead to greatly improved outcomes for patients with head and neck cancers and many other malignancies," Cohen said. "It may also allow us to predict which patients will benefit from this kind of therapeutic approach.”
The grant will support a pair of Phase 1 clinical trials that will begin patient enrollment within the next few months.