Duke Medicine

Working Together To Advance Treatments Since 2001

ABC2 and the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University have worked together since 2001.  ABC2 has funded 25 different projects by Duke investigators.  To date, research highlights include:

Immunotherapy Research by Drs. Duane Mitchell and John Sampson

ABC2 seed-funded the early work by Drs. Duane Mitchell and John Sampson on a CMV vaccine for glioblastoma.  The researchers found that glioblastoma tumors harbor a strain of cytomegalovirus (CMV) that is not present in the surrounding brain tissue, creating a natural target for an immune therapy.  The researchers built upon this knowledge and developed a dendritic cell vaccine that would search and attack the CMV-laden tumor.  This immunotherapy worked well, but they sought additional gains.  They conducted a small study to determine if brain tumor patients treated with a tetanus booster in combination with immunotherapy would live even longer.  In March 2015, their promising findings from that research were published in the preeminent scientific journal, Nature.

Preclinical Screening Program

ABC2 funding allows researchers from any sector - academia, industry, and government - to submit compounds to Duke for screening that hold the potential to benefit brain cancer research free of charge.  More than 150 compounds have been tested or are under consideration by this program.  Researchers at Duke have initiated trials for 18 therapies for brain tumor patients on the basis of results obtained through the testing program. 

Such an opportunity for researchers is highly unusual in the drug research and development arena, where funding is extremely scarce for studies that advance drugs from the laboratory to the clinic.  In particular, few companies can afford to invest their research dollars in finding cures for diseases that affect a comparatively small percentage of the population, as is the case with brain cancer.


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