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March 8, 2018

With Falk Foundation grant, Eric Shusta aims to improve brain cancer immunotherapy

Written By: Silke Schmidt

Eric Shusta

With a new $300,000 catalyst award from the Falk Medical Research Trust, Eric Shusta, the Howard Curler Distinguished Professor of chemical and biological engineering, and of biomedical engineering, will study an innovative form of immunotherapy for brain cancer, an incurable, devastating disease with an average survival time of less than two years. Shusta and co-investigator John Kuo (Department of Neurological Surgery, UW School of Medicine and Public Health) hope to overcome the limitations of currently existing strategies for harnessing a patient’s own immune system to fight the tumor.

To that end, the researchers will target tumor regions with leaky blood vessels, using a novel, recently discovered molecule that is specifically designed to detect these sites. It will deliver a peptide that can then recruit key immune system cells to attack and destroy the tumor.

During the one-year funding period, Shusta and Kuo will test and validate this new form of brain cancer immunotherapy with both in vitro methods and a mouse model of human brain cancer.

The catalyst research award program of the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust was created in 1979 to support high-risk, high-reward projects that address critical scientific and therapeutic roadblocks in biomedical research.