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Zelig Eshhar and Carl H. June honored for research on T cell engineering for cancer immunotherapy

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

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IMAGE: Human Gene Therapy, the Official Journal of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, French Society of Cell and Gene Therapy, German... view more

Credit: ©Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

New Rochelle, NY, November 11, 2014--Zelig Eshhar, PhD, The Weizmann Institute of Science and Sourasky Medical Center, and Carl H. June, MD, PhD, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, are co-recipients of the Pioneer Award, recognized for lentiviral gene therapy clinical trials and for their leadership and contributions in engineering T-cells capable of targeting tumors with antibody-like specificity through the development of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, is commemorating its 25th anniversary by bestowing this honor on the leading Pioneers in the field of cell and gene therapy selected by a blue ribbon panel* and publishing a Pioneer Perspective by the award recipients. The Perspectives by Dr. Eshhar and Dr. June are available free on the Human Gene Therapy website at http://www.liebertpub.com/hgt until December 11, 2014.

In his Pioneer Perspective entitled "From the Mouse Cage to Human Therapy: A Personal Perspective of the Emergence of T-bodies/Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells" Professor Eshhar chronicles his team's groundbreaking contributions to the development of the CAR T-cell immunotherapeutic approach to treating cancer. He describes the method's conceptual development including initial proof-of-concept, and the years of experimentation in mouse models of cancer. They first tested the CAR T-cells on tumors transplanted into mice then progressed to spontaneously developing cancers in immune-competent mice, which Dr. Eshhar describes as "a more suitable model that faithfully mimics cancer patients." He recounts successful antitumor effects in mice with CAR modified T-cells injected directly into tumors, with effects seen at the injection site and at sites of metastasis, and even the potential of the CAR T-cells to prevent tumor development.

Dr. Carl H. June has led one of the clinical groups that has taken the CAR therapeutic strategy from the laboratory to the patients' bedside, pioneering the use of CD19-specific CAR T-cells to treat patients with leukemia. In his Pioneer Perspective, "Toward Synthetic Biology with Engineered T Cells: A Long Journey Just Begun" Dr. June looks back on his long, multi-faceted career and describes how he combined his knowledge and research on immunology, cancer, and HIV to develop successful T-cell based immunotherapies. Among the lessons Dr. June has embraced throughout his career are to follow one's passions. He also says that "accidents can be good: embrace the unexpected results and follow up on these as they are often times more scientifically interesting than predictable responses from less imaginative experiments."

"These two extraordinary scientists made seminal contributions at key steps of the journey from bench to bedside for CAR T-cells," says James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Human Gene Therapy, and Director of the Gene Therapy Program, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

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*The blue ribbon panel of leaders in cell and gene therapy, led by Chair Mary Collins, PhD, MRC Centre for Medical Molecular Virology, University College London selected the Pioneer Award recipients. The Award Selection Committee selected scientists that had devoted much of their careers to cell and gene therapy research and had made a seminal contribution to the field--defined as a basic science or clinical advance that greatly influenced progress in translational research.

About the Journal

Human Gene Therapy, the Official Journal of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, French Society of Cell and Gene Therapy, German Society of Gene Therapy, and five other gene therapy societies, is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly online with Open Access options and in print. Human Gene Therapy presents reports on the transfer and expression of genes in mammals, including humans. Related topics include improvements in vector development, delivery systems, and animal models, particularly in the areas of cancer, heart disease, viral disease, genetic disease, and neurological disease, as well as ethical, legal, and regulatory issues related to the gene transfer in humans. Its sister journals, Human Gene Therapy Methods, published bimonthly and focused on the application of gene therapy to product testing and development, and Human Gene Therapy Clinical Development, published quarterly, features data relevant to the regulatory review and commercial development of cell and gene therapy products. Tables of contents for all three publications and a free sample issue may be viewed on the Human Gene Therapy website at http://www.liebertpub.com/hgt.

About the Publisher

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, Tissue Engineering, Stem Cells and Development, and Cellular Reprogramming. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website at http://www.liebertpub.com.

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