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Celebrating Four New St. Baldrick’s Foundation Research Grants

January 12, 2023
3 min read
Announcing $400,000 in new research grants next to science laboratory equipment

January is usually a time to relax after holiday celebrations – but we aren’t done celebrating yet. Because of the support of St. Baldrick’s Hero Funds and donors like you, we can celebrate four new research grants this month.

These grants were made in response to a specific Request For Applications in disease areas in which St. Baldrick’s typically sees a low number of applications.

Dr. Mitchell Cairo will work to develop immunotherapeutic agents to enhance the functions of Natural Killer cells to kill Burkitt lymphoma. Natural Killer cells are type of immune cell that can kill cancer cells. If successful this would offer a potentially more effective and less toxic treatment option, ultimately leading to improved survival. This grant is supported by the Jack’s Pack – We Still Have His Back Hero Fund.

Dr. Saba Ghassemi is working to develop CAR T cells faster and with increased strength to fight pediatric glioblastoma (GBM). She will combine these CAR T cells with a metabolic strategy to overcome the metabolic nature of tumor environment. This will lead to superior immunotherapy treatments against pediatric GBM. This grant is supported by the Be Brooks Brave Fund Hero Fund.

Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer that occurs in children and young adults, is caused by an abnormal protein (EWS-FLI1) that stops cells from maturing into normal tissues. Dr. Joseph Ludwig is using powerful gene editing tools to systematically turn the EWS-FLI1 protein up or down and then measure whether such changes allow cancer cells to behave more normally. The information gained from this research is expected to lead to new anti-cancer treatments for adolescents and young adults battling Ewing sarcoma. This grant is supported by the Shohet Family Fund for Ewing Sarcoma Research Hero Fund.

Dr. Kimberly Stegmaier and colleagues have used a technology called CRISPR to identify new therapeutic targets for Ewing sarcoma. They prioritized a class of targets which are expressed in immature but not mature tissues. These proteins are often abnormally re-expressed in cancers such as Ewing sarcoma. Thus, drugs targeting these proteins would be expected to have minimal toxicity. Dr. Stegmaier will validate these therapeutic targets in Ewing sarcoma. This project has exciting translational potential for patients with Ewing sarcoma. This grant is supported by the The Ben Brandenburg Fund for Ewing Sarcoma Research Hero Fund.

As we look ahead into 2023 and beyond, this research gives kids with cancer hope. Keep a look out for our next grants announcement later this Spring. 

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