CancerRNA Seeks to Develop and Validate RNA-Based Cancer Therapies

By News Release


Earlier this month, the Hadassah Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem hosted the opening meeting of CancerRNA, a global consortium that aims to apply RNA-based therapeutics to successfully unlock anti-cancer immune responses.

The CanceRNA team, led by Professor Michal Lotem, MD, Head of HCRI, the Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy, and Prof. Rotem Karni Department Chair at Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, will focus on two main goals. First, will be harnessing the modulation of RNA processing to increase the immunogenicity of "cold" cancers which lack genomic mutations, to exploit abnormal transcripts and evoke immune response; and second, enhancing the activity of the immune system by retargeting immune effector cells, modulating RNA splicing of key immune receptors and developing personalized mRNA vaccines.

This multi-disciplined team is composed of international leaders in the fields of RNA research, clinicians and biotech-pharma experts in RNA processing, RNA drug design and delivery, biocomputing and immuno-oncology: Wolf Prize Laureate Prof. Lynne Maquat of the University of Rochester; Prof. Maria Carmo Fonseca of the University of Lisbon; Prof. Juan Valcarcel of the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona; Prof. Tanja DeGruijl of the University of Amsterdam; Prof. Niels Schaft of the University of Erlangen; Erez Levanon of Bar Ilan University; Seth Salpeter of Immunyx; Pablo Menendez of Jose Carreras Leukemia Institute in Spain; Evelien Smits of the University of Brussels; and Regine Shevach, Simon Geissler and Daniel Helman of Merck.

"CanceRNA will initially focus on two cancer types, acute myeloid leukemia, relevant for pediatric cancer, and uveal melanoma, both of which harbor splicing factor mutations and that are generally refractory to immunotherapy," said Professor Lotem. "Our hope is to utilize RNA-based therapeutics to overcome what until now, have been key barriers to successful anti-cancer immune responses. "

"The combination of experts from all over Europe in the fields of RNA biology, immunology, bioinformatics and drug transport will propel the development of the next generation of immunotherapy cancer treatments," added co-CanceRNA leader, Professor Rotem Karni, Chair of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School.

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CancerRNA Seeks to Develop and Validate RNA-Based Cancer Therapies.  Appl Rad Oncol. 

By News Release| September 19, 2022

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