August 16, 2023

City of Hope’s Innovative Cell and Gene Therapy Research Receives $32.3M in Funding

Researchers at City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States, were awarded $32.3 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to support three novel Phase 1 clinical trials evaluating innovative cell and gene therapy treatments for patients with HIV, acute myeloid leukemia and severe aplastic anemia.

The first of the three CIRM-funded trials will test an innovative chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for HIV. City of Hope is at the forefront of CAR T cell therapy, which uses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer and has the potential to target other diseases such as HIV.  City of Hope scientists have developed a novel approach where a patient’s immune T cells are engineered to target both a specific HIV antigen and a common virus that infects nearly all persons living with HIV. The researchers’ aim is for these bispecific HIV-CAR T cells to persist and eliminate HIV-infected cells so that antiviral drugs are no longer needed.

The second trial is a first-in-human Phase 1 immunotherapy trial for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which has the highest mortality rate of all blood cancers. It will be the first to use T cells from a healthy donor who has donated stem cells for the AML patient to undergo a transplant. The trial will evaluate the CAR T therapy’s safety and its effectiveness in eliminating leukemia cells.

The third trial will test a novel blood stem cell transplantation procedure for severe aplastic anemia, a rare bone marrow disease that can turn into blood cancer and is currently difficult to treat. If successful, the treatment could also be used for other autoimmune diseases, such as treatment-resistant type 1 diabetes.

City of Hope is a leader in gene therapies, including bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants. As one of the highest volume transplant centers in the nation and the largest in California, more than 18,000 transplants have been performed at City of Hope since it became one of the first cancer centers in the U.S. to perform the therapy in 1976.

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