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  • Writer's pictureEllen Blair

$25,000 Research Grant

December 2020: The Catherine Elizabeth Blair Memorial Foundation made a $25,000 grant for "Moving the Dial on Neuroblastoma Research and Treatment" to Dr. Anthony Sandler's lab at Children's National in Washington, DC. We have continued our support of the lab for five years as they work towards moving into the clinical trial stage.

Progressing Towards a Neuroblastoma Clinical Trial: Having demonstrated that suppressing the MYCN gene in mouse models with small molecule inhibitors creates an effective whole cell vaccine, the team is ensuring next steps towards a clinical trial. In order to make the vaccine more effective, the team is working to develp an antibody that will block the novel checkpoint currently inhibiting the delivery of the whole cell vaccine curative effect in certain mouse models. This work aims to increase an overall cure rate and render clinical trials more viable.

Testing the Power of a Novel Molecule: In addition to the viability of the whole cell vaccine, the team is working to reduce any immune-related adverse events such as potentially life-threatening inflammatory side effects in other organs. Initial work in our mouse model suggests that a new molecule could help suppress these side effects without blocking the vaccine's potential.

Translating the Mouse Model to the Human Cell: Led by oncologist Dr. Marie Nelson, the lab team is studying human cell lines to convert mouse model results into patient care. Next steps include rendering tumor cells visible so that the vaccine can activate and immune response against the tumor. The team has also begun to test the cell lines against human blood and human white cells. They are currently seeking a compatible blood cell to match the tumor in the lab. If the team can show that the treatment of these cancer cells can induce a response in human blood in the lab, then it will be a prelude to a clinical trial. The expertise of our colleagues at the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research will help accelerate our work through clinical trials and patient care.

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