$1.2 million awarded to researchers at the largest cancer center in the U.S.
The Mark Foundation announces three ASPIRE Awards to investigators at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for high risk, high reward cancer research projects focused on translational science:
- Jennifer McQuade, MD, MS (PI), Jennifer Wargo, MD, MMSc, and Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, PhD, MPH are studying whether high-fiber diet intervention can boost response to anti-PD1 immunotherapy in patients with metastatic melanoma. If this pilot study shows that modulation of diet promises to enhance anti-tumor immunity, larger trials evaluating the impact of fiber-rich dietary intervention on immunotherapy outcomes will be initiated.
- Cullen Taniguchi, MD, PhD (PI), Anirban Maitra, MD, and Eugene Jon Koay, MD are evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of leflunomide, an FDA-approved anti-arthritis drug, as a treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), a rapidly metastasizing cancer of the pancreas. Data from this study will inform a future leflunomide PDAC clinical trial.
- Jennifer Wang, MD (PI), Mark Zafereo, MD, and Wenyi Wang, PhD are seeking to understand the underlying mechanisms for anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) tumor resistance to treatment with a combination of dabrafenib and trametinib. They are also assessing the potential benefit that might result from the addition of immunotherapy to that regimen. The research team will chart a path for better therapeutic strategies that could increase overall survival for those diagnosed with this rare and lethal form of cancer.
The ASPIRE (Accelerating Scientific Platforms and Innovative Research) program funds high risk, high reward approaches to solving complex problems in cancer research that tend to fall outside the scope of other funding opportunities. ASPIRE Awards are designed to answer key proof-of-concept questions in a short timeframe.
For additional information about The Mark Foundation’s ASPIRE Awards, visit: