Damon Runyon Researchers

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Mark B. Leick, MD

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common acute leukemia in adults. Intensive chemotherapy cures only a subset of patients, and immunotherapy has had limited success in AML. One novel approach is chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which involves genetically engineering a patient's own immune cells to target cancer cells. The difficulty with this approach is that the majority of available targets present on AML cells also reside on many normal cells. Based on emerging data demonstrating overexpression of the gene CD70 in AML cells compared to normal tissues, Dr. Leick [The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Physician-Scientist] and his colleagues have recently optimized a CD70-targeted CAR T therapy and demonstrated its efficacy in AML. Despite the superiority of this CAR over prior versions, however, it is less effective against AML cells that present a low amount of the antigen. Dr. Leick is now working to improve this CAR through genetic modification and/or a dual targeting approach. His work has the potential to generate a safe, highly potent, optimized strategy for treating this leukemia.

Project title: "Engineering novel CAR T cells for AML: translating lessons from correlative studies and other diseases"
Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital
Named Award: The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Physician-Scientist
Award Program: Physician-Scientist
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Blood
Research Area: Experimental Therapeutics