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Georgia CORE awards second Collaborative Cancer Research Seed Grant

5/01/2023, Georgia CORE

Now an annual way to celebrate National Cancer Research Month, Georgia CORE has awarded Dr. Susan N. Thomas, Woodruff Associate Professor at Georgia Tech and Dr. Sarwish Rafiq, Assistant Professor at Emory University a Collaborative Cancer Research Seed Grant from the Georgia Cancer Research Fund. The grant will fund research titled, "Engineering super migratory CAR T cells for PDAC immunotherapy."

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers among adults in the US and expected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths by 2030. This research will establish a widely applicable and streamlined immune cell manufacturing process for improved efficacy in pancreatic cancer that can rapidly be realized in human patients. 

"While manufactured immune cells have shown remarkable responses in many blood cancers, their successful application in pancreatic cancer has faced challenges stemming from dense tissue of pancreatic tumors that prevents elimination by therapeutic immune cells," explains Dr. Thomas. "Our objective is to integrate two complimentary microtechnology-based cell manufacturing platforms -- MCBs and T-CHip to reach superior tumor infiltration."

In its second award cycle, the Collaborative Cancer Research Seed Grant provides seed funding for a cancer research project that involves two or more Georgia institutions or organizations that will collaborate on new research. "We're thrilled that we are able to fund research between investigators at two different institutions who have never held joint funding -- exactly the spirit of the grant," said Dr. Sheryl Gabram, Georgia CORE's Chief Scientific Officer who is overseeing the grant process.

With a quick and easy indication on their GA 500 forms, it is Georgia tax filers who invest in the state's Cancer Research Fund, from which Georgia CORE has granted $100,000 starting July 1 for this manufactured immune cell study.

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Advancing Cancer Care through Partnerships and Innovation

Georgia CORE is a statewide nonprofit that leverages partnerships and innovation to attract more clinical trials, increase research, and promote education and early detection to improve cancer care for Georgians in rural, urban, and suburban communities across the state.