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Shannon Oda Receives $250,000 Washington Research Foundation Grant to Develop Technology for Solid Tumor Therapies

Seattle Children’s Research Institute principal investigator aims to expand potential targets for adoptive cell therapies using dual costimulatory receptors

We are seeing exciting results in our in vivo cell therapy studies and evidence that our engineered T cells serve as a catalyst for an anti-cancer response from other immune cells.

—Shannon Oda, Ph.D.

SEATTLE, WA, USA, May 26, 2022 / — Shannon Oda, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington received a $250,000 Phase 2 Technology Commercialization Grant from the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) to engineer T cells with dual costimulatory receptors (DCRs) to improve cancer treatment outcomes. Oda was awarded $50,000 from the WRF in 2021 for early proof-of-concept work on this innovative strategy that could have a significant impact on improving adoptive cell therapies (ACTs) for solid tumors.

ACTs using modified T cells have already been shown to be effective in the treatment of certain blood cancers. However, they are much less effective against solid tumors, which account for about 90% of the nearly two million annual cancer diagnoses in the United States. There are several reasons for this. Solid tumors contain few “markers” that can be identified by immune cells capable of effectively killing the tumor, making precise tumor targeting difficult. In addition, the tumor creates a protective environment around itself that suppresses these immune cells. To address this, Oda is designing DCRs in T cells, which can simultaneously stimulate signaling in T cells, as well as engage other immune cells to diversify the antitumor response and target multiple markers.

With partial support from the 2021 WRF grant, Oda demonstrated that the addition of DCR can increase the immune response in both engineered T cells and endogenous body cell populations, leading to increased survival in models. murine. Oda describes this as a “living drug” approach that should make ACTs successful in treating a wider range of cancers.

“We are seeing exciting results in our in vivo cell therapy studies and evidence that our engineered T cells serve as a catalyst for an anti-cancer response from other immune cells,” Oda said. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with WRF to develop more effective and less toxic therapies for patients.”

The milestones Oda achieved with the previous Washington Research Foundation grant were key to this continued support, said Meher Antia, Ph.D., director of grant programs at WRF.

“Dr. Oda’s work has shown that there is great potential in the DCR approach, and our new grant is intended to continue some of the technical validation that is still needed to fully flesh out the promise of DCRs in as a viable treatment option.

Oda is conducting mechanistic studies of more than 75 compounds in mouse models to determine which show the most promise in treating tumors. This will provide a comprehensive data set to support the future work that will be needed to bring this technology to human clinical trials and ultimately benefit patients.

About the Washington Research Foundation:

The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) supports research and scholarship in Washington State, with an emphasis on life sciences and enabling technologies.

WRF was founded in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutes in Washington with the commercialization and licensing of their technologies. WRF is one of the nation’s leading grantmaking and technology transfer organizations, having generated more than $445 million in licensing revenue for the University of Washington and provided more than $131 million in grants to state research institutes to date.

WRF Capital, a reserve fund pool for investing in Washington State startups, has backed 117 local startups since 1996. The returns from these investments support the Foundation’s mission.

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Meher Antia, Ph.D.
Director, Grant Programs
+1 206-336-5600
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