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Junghans named PI in $5.9 million breast cancer grant

Richard Junghans, MD, associate professor of surgery at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Chief of Surgical Research was named principal investigator of a grant to research how breast cancer patients' own cells can be modified to fight their disease. Junghans along with colleagues at Roger Williams Medical Center received the $5.9 million Impact Award, from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.

Junghans is at the forefront of research that aims to redirect the immune systems of cancer patients to fight their cancers. This is done by using gene therapy techniques to modify the patients' own T cells to create "designer T cells". As part of the research, a coordinated series of clinical trials and laboratory research activities is planned with the focus of curing metastatic breast cancers via this emerging technology.

"T-cells have the capacity to hunt down and eliminate infected host cells, or when properly directed, tumorous host cells anywhere in the body," said Junghans. "We propose a therapy with intent to cure metastatic, widely disseminated tumors in patients who otherwise have no hope for from existing treatments."

The federal government describes the Impact Award projects as having "the potential to have a radical, revolutionary impact on an area of paramount importance in breast cancer."

"Progress has been made reducing recurrence in adjuvant settings with hormone, chemical and biological therapies, but there is still no agent for breast cancer, or for any subset of breast cancer, that offers any hope of eradicating the disease once metastatic," said Junghans. "It is these advanced cancers that are the target of this proposal."


Contact: Gina DiGravio
Boston University Medical Center

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