Public Release: 

Wistar scientist awarded American Cancer Society grant for research on tumor killing cells

The Wistar Institute

Philadelphia-- Daniela Santoli, Ph.D., a professor in The Wistar Institute's Tumor Immunology Program, has been awarded a $300,000 two-year grant from the American Cancer Society for a Phase I/II trial of TALL-104 cells in patients with metastatic melanoma.

TALL-104 is a "killer" cell line derived from the cells of a child with a rare form of T-cell leukemia. Dr. Santoli has found that TALL-104 cells can recognize and selectively kill malignant cells. Her research team has used TALL-104 cells to treat pet dogs and cats with various terminal cancers that were unresponsive to conventional therapy. In many of these companion animals, the TALL-104 cells caused complete, long-lasting remissions.

Phase I clinical trials of TALL-104, which tested the safety of the treatment on humans and established safe dosage ranges for further efficacy trials, were conducted on children with advanced cancers and women with metastatic breast cancer. In these trials, no toxicity was shown up to the planned maximum dose. With the recently awarded American Cancer Society funds, Dr. Santoli and her clinical collaborator, Dr. Lynn Schuchter at the Cancer Center of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, will focus on the development of a TALL-104 regimen that will be effective and safe in melanoma patients with metastatic disease. These trials are not expected to start until later this year.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Last year, the American Cancer Society contributed $93.3 million to research facilities throughout the country.

The Wistar Institute, established in 1892, was the first independent medical research facility in the country. For more than 100 years, Wistar scientists have been making history and improving world health through their development of vaccines for diseases that include rabies, German measles, infantile gastroenteritis (rotavirus), and cytomegalovirus; discovery of molecules like interleukin-12, which are helping the immune system fight bacteria, parasites, viruses and cancer; and location of genes that contribute to the development of diseases like breast, lung and prostate cancer. Wistar is a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.

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