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USC Keck School of Medicine's Dr. Alan Epstein Receives Prestigious National Cancer Institute RAID Award for Breakthrough IL-2 Molecule Therapeutic
Date:7/7/2009

LOS ANGELES, July 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Southern California today announced that Dr. Alan Epstein of the USC Keck School of Medicine has received approval for a $3.5 million drug development project through the Rapid Access to Intervention Development (RAID) program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for his breakthrough Interleukin-2 (IL-2) cytokine immunotherapy analog. This is the second RAID award Dr. Epstein has received from the National Cancer Institute.

The NCI RAID program is a peer-reviewed competitive award program designed to assist translation of novel anticancer therapeutics to the clinic. The goal of the program is to show proof of principle that a new molecule is a viable candidate for expanded clinical evaluation. As a RAID award recipient, Dr. Epstein will receive access to drug development resources of the Developmental Therapeutics Program. These resources will be used to further the preclinical development of his IL-2 analog therapy for the treatment of certain cancers that appears to retain the benefits of existing IL-2 therapies without the major side effects that currently limit their application.

IL-2 cytokine immunotherapy is used to treat metastatic melanoma and metastatic renal cell carcinoma, diseases that afflict over 60,000 and 50,000 people in the United States each year, respectively. An increase in melanoma incidence has elevated the disease to the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Approximately 60,000 Americans developed invasive cutaneous melanoma in 2007, with an estimated additional 48,000 or more cases of melanoma in situ. The current lifetime risk for developing invasive melanoma is 1 case per 60 Americans. Currently, IL-2 is the only FDA approved immunotherapeutic agent.

But while the current therapy provides unparalleled recovery for certain cancer patients, the application of IL-2 is severely li
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SOURCE University of Southern California
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