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June 22nd, 2020

AACR Honors MIT’s Tyler Jacks, PhD, with 2020 Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship for His Remarkable Advancement of Genetically Engineered Mouse Models and for His Seminal Discoveries Related to Oncogenes and Immune System Regulation of Tumor Progress

On May 29, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that it is recognizing Tyler Jacks, PhD, Fellow of the AACR Academy, with the 2020 AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship. Dr. Jacks is Director of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Co-Director of the Ludwig Center at MIT, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. He is being recognized for transforming cancer research and the development of therapeutic treatments through his remarkable advancement of genetically engineered mouse models and for his seminal discoveries related to oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, cell death, and immune system regulation of tumor progression. “Dr. Jacks is a highly esteemed cancer scientist, and we are delighted to recognize his exceptional body of innovative work,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His ground-breaking research has provided deep insights into cancer initiation and progression, and has led to the identification of promising new treatments for cancer patients worldwide. He is revered for his tremendous research achievements as well as for his commitment to collaborative research across the world.

Michael Karin, PhD, Honored with 2020 AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Award for Outstanding Basic Cancer Research; Dr. Karin Carried Out Seminal Research Connecting Inflammation & Cancer, Establishing Basis for Use of Anti-Cytokine and Anti-Inflammatory Drug Vs Cancer

On June 5, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that it is honoring Michael Karin, PhD, Fellow of the AACR Academy, with the 2020 AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Award for Outstanding Basic Cancer Research. Dr. Karin (photo) (https://profiles.ucsd.edu/michael.karin), Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Pathology at the University of California(UC) San Diego School of Medicine, is being recognized for unraveling the role of metabolic stress, inflammation, and immunosuppression in cancer by establishing the tumorigenic function of NF-κB in cancer progenitors and myeloid cells, and for explaining how inflammation and cancer are linked, laying down the basis for use of anti-cytokine and anti-inflammatory drugs in cancer prevention and treatment. The AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Award for Outstanding Basic Cancer Research (https://www.aacr.org/awards/aacr-g-h-a-clowes-award/) was established by the AACR and Eli Lilly and Co., in 1961 to honor Dr. G.H.A. Clowes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Henry_Alexander_Clowes), who was a founding member of the AACR and a research director at Eli Lilly. The award is intended to recognize an individual who has made outstanding recent accomplishments in basic cancer research. Dr. Karin is world-renowned for his seminal research establishing the relationship between chronic inflammation and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. He discovered that members of the IL-6 family of cytokines are capable of activating oncogenic transcription factors such as STAT3, resulting in colorectal and liver cancer onset. He also showed that IkB kinase contributes to colon, liver, and prostate cancer by activating NF-κB and its downstream expression of anti-apoptotic and growth-promoting genes. Dr.

June 22nd

AACR Honors St. Jude’s James R. Downing, MD, with Inaugural AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research

On June 22, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) presented the first-ever AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Chief Executive Officer James R. Downing, MD. Dr. Downing (https://www.stjude.org/directory/d/james-downing.html) is also the director of the Molecular Pathology Laboratory at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and holds the Donald Pinkel Chair of Childhood Cancer Treatment. Dr. Downing is one of the most esteemed pediatric cancer researchers in the world. With this award, he is being recognized for his revolutionary research efforts dedicated to characterizing the genomics of pediatric cancer to inform the development of better treatments for children afflicted with cancer and for contributing to the creation and implementation of the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project (https://www.stjude.org/research/pediatric-cancer-genome-project.html), which has led to a number of landmark discoveries in the biology of brain tumors, leukemia, cancer of the peripheral nervous system, and tumors of the eye. The AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research (https://www.aacr.org/awards/aacr-st-baldricks-foundation-award-for-outst...) was established in 2019 to recognize major research discoveries in pediatric cancer research and to honor an individual who has significantly contributed to any area of pediatric cancer research, resulting in the fundamental improvement of the understanding and/or treatment of pediatric cancer.

June 21st

AACR Honors Patricia S. Steeg with 2020 Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship Award, Recognizing Her Ground-Breaking Research on Breast Cancer Metastasis, Including Discovery of the First Metastasis Suppressor Gene (NME)

On June 16, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that it is honoring Patricia S. Steeg, PhD, with the 2020 AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship award. Dr. Steeg, Co-Director of the Office of Translational Resources and Associate Director of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is being recognized for her ground-breaking research on breast cancer metastasis, including the discovery of the first metastasis suppressor gene and development of a clinical-translational program dedicated to investigating brain metastases of breast cancer. The AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship (https://www.aacr.org/awards/aacr-women-in-cancer-research-charlotte-frie...) was established in 1998 in honor of renowned virologist and discoverer of the Friend virus, Charlotte Friend, PhD, for her pioneering research on viruses, cell differentiation, and cancer. This lectureship recognizes an outstanding female or male scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of women in science. Dr. Steeg is best known for performing pioneering research on breast cancer metastasis. In 1988, she discovered the first metastasis suppressor gene, nm23 (NME). Her work demonstrated that the previously unknown NME gene is commonly down-regulated in cells with increased metastatic potential. Dr. Steeg later cloned the NME family of genes and further characterized the biological and enzymatic activities of NME by conducting experiments in which she reintroduced NME into metastatic tumor cells.

Israel Company Kamada Announces Availability of Its Plasma-Derived Hyperimmune IgG Therapy for Compassionate Use Treatment of COVID-19 Infection in Israel

On June 17, 2020, Kamada Ltd. (NASDAQ: KMDA; TASE: KMDA.TA), a plasma-derived-biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Rehovot, Israel, provided an update on its development of a plasma-derived immunoglobulin G (IgG) product for coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) disease. Kamada (https://www.kamada.com/) completed manufacturing of the first batch of its plasma-derived IgG product for COVID-19, utilizing the Company’s approved proprietary IgG platform technology, and additional production is ongoing. The initial vials are available for compassionate use in Israel. In addition, Kamada’s proposed clinical protocol for a Phase 1/2 clinical trial was submitted to the Israeli Ministry of Health, and the Company expects to initiate the study during the third quarter of this year. In order to expand its clinical development program to the U.S., Kamada, with the support of Kedrion Biopharma (https://www.kedrion.us/), intends to conduct a pre-Investigational New Drug (pre-IND) meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) early in the third quarter in order to obtain FDA’s acceptance of the proposed clinical development program. Pursuant to the company’s global collaboration agreement with Kedrion for the development, manufacturing, and distribution of the plasma-derived IgG product for COVID-19, Kedrion is currently collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma from U.S. recovered patients that will be used by Kamada to manufacture additional batches of the product. Kedrion is collecting the plasma, through its plasma business unit, KEDPLASMA, at 23 FDA-approved centers across the United States. “We are extremely pleased with the rapid and important progress achieved to date in advancing our plasma-derived IgG product for COVID-19,” said Amir London, Kamada’s Chief Executive Officer.

AACR Recognizes Cigall Kadoch with 2020 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Cancer Research for Pioneering Characterization of Normal & Aberrant SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodeling Complexes; Disruption Contributes to 20% of All Cancers

On June 17, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that it is honoring Cigall Kadoch, PhD, with the 2020 AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Cancer Research. Dr. Kadoch (https://www.dfhcc.harvard.edu/insider/member-detail/member/cigall-kadoch...) is Assistant Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Assistant Professor Of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and an Institute Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She is being recognized for her pioneering biochemical and functional characterization of normal and aberrant SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes and her elucidation of the mechanisms by which the disruption of these complexes contributes to over one-fifth of human cancers. The AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Cancer Research was established by the AACR to recognize an early-career investigator for meritorious achievements in basic cancer research. The award is intended to recognize an individual who has not yet reached 46 years of age at the time of his/her award presentation. Dr. Kadoch is world-renowned for her seminal work involving the biology of ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes, which are groups of proteins that influence how DNA is packaged, thereby controlling when and how strongly genes are expressed. In a landmark study (https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1500447) early in her career, Dr. Kadoch discovered that more than 20 percent of all cancers have mutations in genes encoding proteins that are part of mammalian SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes.

June 20th

AACR Honors Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, with 2020 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research; Sloan-Kettering Scientist/Physician Recognized for Leadership in Ground-Breaking Clinical Development of CTLA-4 Antibody Therapy for Melanoma

On June 17, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that it is recognizing Jedd D. Wolchok (photo), MD, PhD, with the 2020 AACR-Joseph Burchenal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research. Dr. Wolchok is the Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation and Chief of the Immuno-Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). He also serves as Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MSKCC, Associate Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, and Professor of Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Dr. Wolchok is being recognized for his leadership in the groundbreaking clinical development of CTLA-4 antibody therapy for melanoma and for his pivotal role in ushering in the field of checkpoint inhibitor therapies for cancer. The AACR and Bristol-Myers Squibb established this award (xxxx) in 1996 to recognize outstanding achievements in clinical cancer research. The award honors Dr. Joseph H. Burchenal, honorary member and Past President of the AACR, and a major figure in clinical cancer research. Dr. Wolchok is internationally recognized for his seminal role in developing ipilimumab (Yervoy), an anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody that promotes the release of cancer-fighting T cells in the body. He led the pivotal phase III clinical trial demonstrating that treatment with ipilimumab and the chemotherapeutic dacarbazine yields superior overall survival in patients with metastatic melanoma compared with dacarbazine treatment alone. Through his work with ipilimumab, Dr. Wolchok discovered differences in the kinetics of clinical tumor responses to immunotherapy and chemotherapy, which prompted him and his team to develop new criteria for evaluating treatment responses to immunotherapy.

Animal Kingdom Should Have a Father’s Day Too !! BioQuick & Ananya Sen Salute Nature's Top Pops

[This timely article was written by Ananya Sen, a graduate student in microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is reprinted here with her permission. Ms. Sen is also a science writer and her articles can be found at http://ananyasen.web.illinois.edu/. This article was originally published as a Spotlight piece in Nautilus (http://nautil.us/)] Becoming a parent brings out the best in many animals. Although parenting is usually left to the females, males from many species go above and beyond to care for the offspring. Take anemonefish. In “Finding Nemo,” Marlin swims over 1,000 miles from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney to rescue his son Nemo, who had been captured by scuba divers. In reality, anemonefish rarely stray so far away from their home. But, like Marlin, they are excellent fathers. Anemonefish, commonly called clownfish (photo by Dr. Justin Rhodes), live in sea anemones (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-31305-4_27), and reside in the same location for most of their lives. Although sea anemones are one of the most venomous creatures in the sea, clownfish are immune because they have a mucus layer on their skin that protects them. This setup helps both animals. Clownfish usually lay their eggs on a patch of bare rock that is protected by the poisonous tentacles of sea anemones. In exchange, the territorial fish defend the sea anemones from predators. “The males are spectacular fathers,” said Justin Rhodes (https://psychology.illinois.edu/directory/profile/jrhodes), PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Psychology Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Nanosponges Coated with Membranes from Lung Cells or Macrophages Could Intercept SARS-CoV-2 & Block Virus Infectivity

Nanoparticles cloaked in human lung cell membranes and human immune cell membranes can attract and neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus in cell culture, causing the virus to lose its ability to hijack host cells and reproduce. The first data describing this new direction for fighting COVID-19 were published on June 17, 2020 in Nano Letters. The open-access article is titled “"Cellular Nanosponges Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity.” The "nanosponges" were developed by engineers at the University of California (UC) San Diego and tested by researchers at Boston University. The UC San Diego researchers call their nano-scale particles "nanosponges" because they soak up harmful pathogens and toxins. In lab experiments, both the lung cell and immune cell types of nanosponges caused the SARS-CoV-2 virus to lose nearly 90% of its "viral infectivity" in a dose-dependent manner. Viral infectivity is a measure of the ability of the virus to enter the host cell and exploit its resources to replicate and produce additional infectious viral particles. Instead of targeting the virus itself, these nanosponges are designed to protect the healthy cells the virus invades. "Traditionally, drug developers for infectious diseases dive deep on the details of the pathogen in order to find druggable targets. Our approach is different. We only need to know what the target cells are. And then we aim to protect the targets by creating biomimetic decoys," said Liangfang Zhang, PhD, a nanoengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Dr. Zhang’s lab first created this biomimetic nanosponge platform more than a decade ago and has been developing it for a wide range of applications ever since.

Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Honored with 2020 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research: Sharp Co-Discovered Phenomenon of RNA Splicing

On May 26, 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that it is recognizing Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Fellow of the AACR Academy and Nobel Laureate, with the 17th AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research. Dr. Sharp, an Institute professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is being honored for his exceptional body of groundbreaking and high-impact basic research, including his seminal co-discovery of RNA splicing. For this discovery, Dr. Sharp was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with Sir Richard J. Roberts, PhD. This body of research fundamentally changed scientists’ understanding of the structure of genes, shaping our understanding of RNA biology and our knowledge of the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases. “Dr. Sharp is a luminary in the fields of molecular biology and biochemistry who has dedicated his research career to advancing our understanding of the molecular biology of gene expression as it pertains to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “He is one of the most creative scientific thinkers of our time, always looking to push the boundaries to address the enormous challenges that cancer still poses. We are very proud to honor him with this special award.” The AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research was established in 2004 to honor individuals who have made significant fundamental contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a collective body of work. These contributions, whether they have been in research, leadership, or mentorship, must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.