In June 2023 I plan to run in my 15 th Maryland Half Marathon to support the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. As you may know, I try to do this as a way to honor the many patients and families who I have had the privilege to know and help care for during my last 26 years as a member of the Cancer Center faculty. In reality, it is they who have accepted and completed the most challenging courses (of treatment, transplant, cell therapy and recovery) - often uphill, and in the "rain, sleet, and snow".
As before, your generous support of my participation will go toward strengthening the patient care programs and cutting-edge research of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) - designated Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center which will soon be housed in the Roslyn and Leonard Stoler Center for Advanced Medicine. In recent years we saw remarkable advances in the treatment of blood cancers including the first demonstration that genetic modification of T-cells / immune cells taken from patients with very advanced and resistant forms of blood cancers could result in complete and durable remissions. Thanks in part to your support over the last 14 years, the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center has been at the forefront of this exciting work.
In addition, thanks to philanthropic gifts from the grateful families of our patients, we are pleased to announce that we have fully operationalized our new FACT (Fannie Angelos Cell Therapeutics) laboratory (called a "GMP" lab) to support the production of immune cells, stem cells and vaccines for the treatment of cancer and degenerative diseases. Your gift will also help to support the further development and operation of this facility. We are one of the select centers in the US to be qualified to offer personalized “CAR-T” cellular immunotherapy to patients with aggressive lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia and the busiest center in the Maryland-Delaware-Virginia region, having treated more than 300 patients with CAR-T or other types of engineered immune cells. Our team also conducts dozens of cell therapy trials in both blood cancers and in solid tumors (e.g lung, head/neck and prostate cancer). We helped to lead a study which was published in 2022 in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and led to FDA approval of CAR-T therapy for patients with aggressive lymphoma in an earlier stage of their disease. Please click on the link below that depicts the inspiring and heart-warming story of Marcus Johnson, one of our patients who was treated on this study.
We are also developing "next generation" CAR-T therapies to expand cellular therapy to other types of cancers and to improve their efficacy. I am especially proud and grateful to report that during the COVID pandemic our Transplant and Cellular Therapy (TCT) team continued to provide all forms of necessary treatment to hundreds of patients without missing a beat. And our laboratories prepared special cell products to treat patients with the most severe forms of COVID pneumonia. Our immune monitoring laboratory under the direction of Dr. Djordje Atanackovic continues to make and publish key discoveries about CART therapy for patients with all varieties of blood cancers including lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma. Many thanks again for your ongoing support of our mission.
Here is a video featuring patient Marcus Johnson and his CAR-T therapy experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xtBkCNVZ3Q&t=44s