Immune-based cancer therapies

Immune Therapies

Masonic Scholar Veronika Bachanova, M.D., Ph.D., a hematology, oncology, and transplantation faculty member, and Dan Vallera, Ph.D., leader of a molecular cancer therapeutics program at the U, are completing an early-stage clinical trial on a promising drug for B-cell leukemia and lymphoma called DT2219.

Developed by Vallera, DT2219 uses an immune-based antibody fragment to carry a potent diphtheria toxin directly to cancer cells. The drug “widens the net” of malignant cells killed in leukemia and lymphoma and could be especially effective for patients who all too often fail chemotherapy.

“DT2219 has been successful in early clinical trials at the University in some patients with B cell leukemia and lymphoma. This drug is a homegrown product of Masonic support—it could not have been brought to the clinic without it.” — Dan Vallera, Ph.D.

For one patient in a Phase I clinical trial, whose tumor kept growing back after months of traditional treatments including chemotherapy, radiation, and two bone marrow transplants, the results were incredible. The researchers found a whopping 75 percent reduction in the size of the patient's tumor after only one month of treatment with DT2219.

After seeing further encouraging results—from reversible side effects to complete remission—Bachanova and Vallera recently launched a Phase 2 trial testing extended treatment regimens of DT2219 in a larger group of patients. Their ultimate goal is to move this powerful drug from bench to bedside, reaching individuals who urgently need an alternative to other therapies.

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