This award is for those conducting cell and gene therapy research in solid tumors with preference given to mechanistic studies that promote validation of therapeutic efficacy and help develop IND-enabling proposals that address the following areas:
- Identifying new molecular targets for solid tumors, including neo-antigens in tumor and stroma as immunotherapeutic targets.
- Addressing the challenge of genomic instability, increasing tumor mutational burden, and associated tumor heterogeneity to reduce the possibility of tumor escape.
- Expanding beyond conventional alpha-beta T-cell therapies – identify other cell types including engineered B cells, macrophages, inducible pluripotent stem cells, NKT, and gamma-delta T cells that can be leveraged to promote tumor eradication and control.
- Identifying and prosecuting biomarkers of response and resistance to cell and gene therapies.
- Enhancing our understanding of the disordered tumor microenvironment (TME) and its role in promoting tumor growth, as well as immunosuppression and T-cell exhaustion, and developing novel approaches to diminish the tumor’s ability to limit the efficacy of cell and gene therapy.
- Understanding the influence of the myeloid compartment, targeting macrophages and dendritic cells to regulate tumor immunity.
- Exploiting the epigenetic landscape of cancer as well as the associated functional and defective T cells in cancer.
- Developing oncolytic virotherapy approaches in solid tumors, especially exploiting their potential to convert “cold tumors” into “hot tumors.”
- Developing next-generation synthetic biology systems with more potent effector activity, enhanced durability, and improved safety, compared to earlier cellular therapeutics.
Candidates for the ACGT 2022 Investigator Award in Cell and Gene Therapy for Cancer must hold an MD, PhD, or equivalent degree and must be tenure-track or tenured faculty. ACGT recognizes that there may be other excellent researchers not on a tenure-track, or not at medical schools or research centers, but this is an eligibility requirement for this application. The investigator must be conducting original research as an independent faculty member. ACGT has no citizenship restrictions, but research supported by the award must be conducted at academic medical centers or research centers located in the United States or Canada.
The award provides up to a maximum of $500,000 distributed over 2-3 years, inclusive of a maximum of 10% indirect costs. The funds may be used at the recipient’s discretion for salary, technical assistance, supplies, animals or capital equipment, but may not support staff who are not directly related to the project, e.g. secretaries or administrative assistants. Purchase of equipment is not allowed in the final year of the grant. Continued support is contingent upon submission and approval of a non-competitive progress report each year.