The Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation along with the Zhang family will fund the research of an innovative colon cancer vaccine to be developed at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.
The money will be used in the clinical developmental program to test a vaccine-based immunotherapy and DNA hypomethylating agent as alternative methods in the treatment of colorectal cancer.
“Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer related death in the U.S. Despite recent advances in new drug development and improved response to more personalized chemotherapy regimens, the 5-year survival rate for patients with metastatic disease remains at only 5%. Innovative therapies are urgently needed to achieve long-term suppression of disease progression and prolong survival. In the last decade, scientists at Johns Hopkins have made tremendous breakthroughs in cancer vaccine and epigenetics research. In our study, we hope to design a treatment that will benefit patients using both of these breakthrough therapies,” Lei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Oncology and Surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and leader of the research program, said in a news release.
Dr. Zheng’s team has recently completed a Phase 1 clinical study to evaluate a colon cancer vaccine developed at Johns Hopkins. Additionally, using a mouse model of colon cancer, the team also investigated the effect of different combinations of DNA hypomethylating drugs together with the vaccine.
The new funds provided by both the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation and the Zhang Family will allow the team to design a new clinical study to assess the efficiency of the combination therapy, treating metastatic colorectal cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy with the human GVAX vaccine and a new DNA hypomethylating drug.
Furthermore, the funds will also be used to help produce a new clinical lot of vaccines at the Johns Hopkins’ Cell and Gene Therapy Facility.
“If successful, this clinical trial will identify a new therapeutic approach that will provide metastatic colorectal cancer patients with a way to maintain a stable disease status. This approach also could be applicable to earlier stages of colorectal cancer and to other cancers, as well,” added Dr. Zheng.
David Rodman Cohan, the volunteer President of Susie’s Cause, stated in the press release, “We appreciate the gracious charitable contribution of the Zhang Family in supporting the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, and we are pleased to direct this funding to Johns Hopkins for this vital, groundbreaking research. Colon cancer continues to affect too many families, including my own, and the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation is dedicated to helping fight the disease.”