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PRESS RELEASE: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Announces 2017 Bio-Therapeutics Impact Grant Recipient

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Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Announces 2017 Bio-Therapeutics Impact Grant Recipient

The three-year, $1.5 million grant funds promising biologic approaches nearing clinical trial.  

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nonprofit dedicated to finding cures for all kids with cancer, has awarded a Bio-Therapeutics Impact Grant to Andras Heczey, MD of Baylor College of Medicine. The grant provides $1.5 million of funding over the course of three years to move Heczey’s research toward clinical trial.

Dr. Heczey and his co-investigator Leonid Metelitsa, MD/PhD, will develop and clinically test a novel form of cancer immunotherapy for children with neuroblastoma using Natural Killer T cells (NKTs). They have engineered NKTs to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) specific for the GD2 ganglioside (CAR.GD2), which has shown promising clinical results. The study will inform clinical development of NKT cell based immunotherapy for neuroblastoma and have a broad applicability for other types of cancer. 

“Many of these biological therapies research projects focus on hard-to-treat, high-risk cancers and may hold the key to finding better treatments, if not unlocking the cures for children fighting for their lives,” said Jay Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “With the awarding of this grant to Andras Heczey, we are one step closer to fulfilling our daughter’s vision, finding cures for all kids with cancer.”

The Bio-Therapeutics Impact Grant accelerates the development of clinical trials for promising biologic approaches to treating childhood cancer. These approaches include, but are not limited to, immunotherapy, gene therapy and small molecules. The award is intended for investigators who are initiating clinical trials or are undertaking the pre-clinical work necessary to acquire IND (investigational new drug) approval and move into a clinical trial.

In addition to the awarding of the Bio-Therapeutics Impact Grant, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation awards several other grant categories to researchers on the front lines of the childhood cancer fight. For more information on recently funded projects, visit: ALSFgrants.org