Since the beginning, our organization has placed the highest value on the acceleration of childhood cancer and related blood disorders research. If you’re familiar with the MACC Fund, you probably know that. What you may not know is how many medical researchers we support and what types of projects we fund. We’re going to explore a few current cancer research projects being conducted at Children’s Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin to show exactly what you support when you donate to the MACC Fund!
Dr. Michael Burke is an Associate Professor and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Program Director. Dr. Burke is working to develop clinical trials for children and young adults diagnosed with resistant or relapsed leukemia. His current project is focusing on a clinical trial for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
For this study, leukemia cells will be taken from a patient and infected with a virus that can create a human protein called IL-12. The infected cells will then be placed back into the patient so their own immune system will attack the leukemia cells, hopefully resulting in remission.
Moving to Phase II
If this study is successful, it could dramatically change the way therapy is delivered to patients. Rather than using toxic chemotherapy, this therapy could target the patient’s immune system and any underlying cancer without the side effects that typically accompany traditional cancer therapy.
If this small “Phase I” proves effective, Dr. Burke will expand to a larger “Phase II” trial involving pediatric hospitals across the country, a process that would make this therapy available to many more children battling leukemia.
Studying Sarcoma Immunotherapy
Dr. Nate Schloemer is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics—Hematology/Oncology/BMT. While his clinical role is being part of the solid tumor team, his research role includes running a laboratory studying sarcoma immunotherapy.
Dr. Schloemer is investigating how to improve and develop new treatments by harnessing a patient’s own immune system, specifically to treat bone and soft tissue sarcomas. The ongoing research goal is to grow human sarcoma cancer tissue that can then be used to study the complex immune system reactions to a tumor and test new treatments that augment that immune response.
By defining the immune targets on sarcomas, Dr. Schloemer and his colleagues hope to develop novel immunotherapies that allow for the destruction of cancer cells with less harmful side effects than conventional chemotherapy. With these more effective and safer therapies, Dr. Schloemer hopes to move one step closer to all patients becoming cancer survivors.
Collaborating for a Cure
There’s still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done before the findings in the lab can be translated into treatments for patients. Dr. Schloemer and his colleagues are collaborating with the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Medin, MACC Fund Professor. By working together and sharing their knowledge, these researchers hope to move research forward and implement new cellular treatments for patients.
Developing Anti-Cancer Immunotherapies
Dr. Jeffrey Medin, a MACC Fund Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry, is working with his team to develop anti-cancer immunotherapies, specifically bispecific antibodies and CAR-T therapies. Using novel targets, they have generated cells that target various childhood cancer cells such as leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myelomas. If these prove effective in the laboratory and in animal models, the next step would be to validate the processes and begin initiating clinical trials in pediatric patients at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Wisconsin.
Improving the Lives of Kids
Childhood cancers can be challenging to tackle, and doctors are constantly searching for new and improved ways to treat, and improve the quality of life for, pediatric patients. As a translational research lab, Medin’s goal is to test and implement immunotherapies in the clinic. Through support provided by the MACC Fund, Medin and his team aim to bring biAB and CAR-T therapies from the laboratory bench into pediatric patients to improve outcomes and the quality of life for patients here in Milwaukee and beyond.
Dr. Jeffrey Medin, MACC Fund Professor
Dr. Michael Burke, Associate Professor and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Program Director
Dr. Nate Schloemer, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics-Hematology/Oncology/BMT