Translating Laboratory Breakthroughs into Treatments for Patients


July 16, 2012

In continuing coverage of a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on the translational research program for the Abramson Cancer Center. The Penn Med team found that an HIV drug that redirects immune cell traffic significantly reduces the incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) that often follows bone marrow transplants for blood cancer patients. The team – Ran Reshef, MD, assistant professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology; David Porter, MD, director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation and professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology; and Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, associate professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology, and associate director for Translational Research in the ACC – says the work represents a new tactic for the prevention of GvHD. "It is a tripartite kind of relationship," Porter said, with labwork leading to clinical treatments and then back to the lab for improvement. Reshef shuttled back and forth between scientist and clinician as his idea was fleshed out, tested, and designed for human application. “This is a really good example," said Porter, of how Penn translates research from lab to patient, and grooms the next generation of physician-researchers like Reshef. The role of Carl June, MD, director of translational research, Abramson Cancer Center, and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, in the development of this treatment is also highlighted.

 Philadelphia Inquirer article

Translational Research at Abramson