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Collaborative Research Team to Study Immune Therapy for Multiple Myeloma

July 7, 2012

A collaborative research team received a one-year, $20,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to study a novel immunotherapy approach for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Jill Gershan, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics (hematology/oncology) at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and an investigator at Children’s Research Institute, the research arm of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, is the primary investigator of the grant. Co-primary investigators from Froedtert & The Medical College are William Drobyski, M.D.; Carolyn Taylor, Ph.D.; and Michael Bishop, M.D. Meghen Browning, M.D., and Byron Johnson, Ph.D., conduct research at MCW and at Children’s Research Institute.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer with an average survival prognosis of only 3-5 years as most patients succumb to their disease despite aggressive chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Therefore, it is critical that novel treatments for cancers such as multiple myeloma are developed to prevent relapse and improve overall survival. Adjuvant immunotherapy administered early post-transplant offers a promising approach to reduce multiple myeloma relapse. The goal of immune therapy is to destroy tumor through the activation of tumor-specific cytolytic lymphocytes and induce a memory response whereby immune cells will continue surveillance and destruction of tumor cells long-term. The aim of this pre-clinical study is to determine the optimal combination of immune therapies that elicit the best anti-tumor effect in a murine model of multiple myeloma.

This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major future research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center (BBC) and the John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award.

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