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The Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center

Genetically Modified "Serial Killer" T Cells Obliterate Tumors in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Penn Researchers Report

(PHILADELPHIA) -- In a cancer treatment breakthrough 20 years in the making, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center and Perelman School of Medicine have shown sustained remissions of up to a year among a small group of advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T cells. The protocol, which involves removing patients' cells and modifying them in Penn's vaccine production facility, then infusing the new cells back into the patient's body following chemotherapy, provides a tumor-attack roadmap for the treatment of other cancers including those of the lung and ovaries and myeloma and melanoma. The findings, published simultaneously today in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine, are the first demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to create "serial killer" T cells aimed at cancerous tumors.
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Genetically Modified "Serial Killer" T Cells Obliterate Tumors in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Penn Researchers Report

(PHILADELPHIA) -- In a cancer treatment breakthrough 20 years in the making, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center and Perelman School of Medicine have shown sustained remissions of up to a year among a small group of advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T cells. The protocol, which involves removing patients' cells and modifying them in Penn's vaccine production facility, then infusing the new cells back into the patient's body following chemotherapy, provides a tumor-attack roadmap for the treatment of other cancers including those of the lung and ovaries and myeloma and melanoma. The findings, published simultaneously today in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine, are the first demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to create "serial killer" T cells aimed at cancerous tumors.
more

Penn Researchers Uncover Novel Immune Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

PHILADELPHIA - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center have discovered a novel way of treating pancreatic cancer by activating the immune system to destroy the cancer’s scaffolding. The strategy was tested in a small cohort of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, several of whose tumors shrank substantially. The team believes their findings – and the novel way in which they uncovered them -- could lead to quicker, less expensive cancer drug development.
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Penn Researchers Find New Role for Cancer Protein p53

PHILADELPHIA - The gene for the protein p53 is the most frequently mutated in human cancer. It encodes a tumor suppressor, and traditionally researchers have assumed that it acts primarily as a regulator of how genes are made into proteins. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine show that the protein has at least one other biochemical activity: controlling the metabolism of the sugar glucose, one of body's main sources of fuel. These new insights on a well-studied protein may be used to develop new cancer therapies.
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Penn Study Shows Two-Sided Immune Cell Could be Harnessed to Shrink Tumors

PHILADELPHIA - A recently identified immune cell that directs other cells to fight infection plays a critical role in regulating the immune system in both health and disease.
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Cells of Aggressive Leukemia Hijack Normal Protein to Grow, According to Penn Study

PHILADELPHIA - Researchers have found that one particularly aggressive type of blood cancer, mixed lineage leukemia (MLL), has an unusual way to keep the molecular motors running. The cancer cells rely on the normal version of an associated protein to stay alive.
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Low Oxygen Recruits Inflammatory Cells to Tumors, Stimulating Growth, Penn Researchers Find

WASHINGTON, DC - The inner regions of tumors have a low-oxygen content and often contain inflammatory cells called macrophages, which researchers suspect promote tumor growth. Now, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers show that this is the case: Tumor cells in this low-oxygen area actively recruit macrophages and blocking their recruitment reduces tumor growth and aggressiveness in mouse models. The results suggest new targets for cancer drug development. more

Stand Up to Cancer: Interview with the Dream Team Leader, Craig Thompson, M.D.

An extraordinary line-up of actors, musicians, athletes and journalists banded together for Stand Up To Cancer, a landmark event that raised over $100 million to accelerate cancer research. Penn received an $18 million grant to lead the pancreatic cancer dream team. more

Targeted Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Metastatic Breast and Pancreatic Cancers

Thursday, May 27, 2010 5:00 PM - Early trials using targeted monoclonal antibodies in combination with existing therapies show promise in treating pancreatic cancer and metastatic breast cancer, according to research that will be presented by investigators from the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center at the 2010 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology June 4 through 8. One study uses an antibody to enhance the effectiveness of a breast cancer vaccine developed at Penn to treat women with advanced breast cancer, while a pancreatic cancer trial uses an immune-enhancing antibody to increase the effectiveness of a current standard drug used to treat pancreatic cancer. more

New Role for Transfer RNA

Transfer RNA, known for its role in the complicated process of maintaining the life of cells through gene expression, is also a harbinger of cell death. Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) ferry individual amino acids to messenger RNAs, helping to decipher the genetic code to eventually build a protein. A team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has found that shuttling genetic cargo isn't all that tRNA does: It also helps to control programmed cell death, which eliminates damaged cells from the body. more


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