Stanford University Investigators Awarded Grant for Children's Cancer Research
Kathleen Sakamoto, MD, PhD, and Irv Weissman, PhD, Receive $1.37 million for Project that Could Lead to New Treatment for Children with Cancer

For Release:
September 20, 2013
Erica Neufeld
(240) 235-2201  

Bethesda, MD - CureSearch for Children's Cancer this week awarded Kathleen Sakamoto, MD, PhD, and Irv Weissman, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine a $1.37 million grant to research the effects of an antibody known to help a patient's immune system rid the body of cancer cells. If successful, their work will lead to a new approach to treat childhood cancer and improve both the overall survival and quality of life for children with cancer.

In a healthy person, when the body makes abnormal cells or when cells become old, the body's scavenger cells, called macrophages, eliminate them. When a person has cancer, the abnormal cells are not eliminated by the macrophages. Researchers under the leadership of Dr. Weissman discovered that pediatric brain tumor, leukemia, bone tumor and neuroblastoma cells overproduce a cell surface protein known as CD47. The overproduction of CD47 on cancer cells tells macrophages "don't eat me," allowing the disease to progress. Dr. Weissman's team tested an antibody to block the "don't eat me" signal in a variety of cancer cells and in animals and their tests were successful.

The CureSearch grant will support a clinical research team, including pediatric oncologists, research nurses, and a clinical research administrator under the leadership of Dr. Sakamoto to conduct a Phase I clinical trial at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. This study will test whether the anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody will decrease the size of tumors in children, by blocking the CD47 "don't eat me" signal and allowing macrophages to eliminate cancer cells.

If successful, this approach could transform the way children with cancer are treated, especially those who have highly resistant disease that does not respond to current treatment.

"We are excited that Dr. Sakamoto and Dr. Weissman's project is one of the three Acceleration Initiative grants we are awarding this year to researchers studying areas critical to achieving breakthroughs in treatments with the potential to reach patients in early clinical trials within three years," says Laura Thrall, president and CEO of CureSearch. "We are thrilled to be funding research with patient-centric outcomes that not only addresses unmet needs but also uses innovative and novel approaches to do so."


CureSearch for Children's Cancer is a national non-profit foundation whose mission is to fund and support targeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurable results, and is the authoritative source of information and resources for all those affected by children's cancer. CureSearch accelerates the cure by driving innovation, eliminating research barriers, and solving the field's most challenging problems; annually funding clinical trials and scientific research questions that challenge the status quo to push the field closer to a cure. Ultimately, CureSearch is working to change the odds for those children most at risk.

Christine Bork
Email Christine
(800) 458-6223

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