Parameswaran Receives $1M for B-Cell Cancer Research

Portrait of Reshmi Parameswaran

Reshmi Parameswaran, PhD, MS, a member of Case CCC's Immune Oncology Program, has received the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust award. The $1M was awarded to Parameswaran for her work in cancer cell therapy. It is to be used over three years to advance novel approaches to treating B-cell cancers.

Parameswaran has developed a new treatment strategy for B-cell cancer patients—especially for those who don’t respond to conventional therapies and for whom the disease returns. About 100,000 of the 250,000 B-cell cancer patients diagnosed annually in the United States need a more effective therapy option.

Parameswaran has built modified immune cells that have more power to kill cancer cells without killing normal cells, and, thus, minimize a patient's side effects. To do this, she purifies “Natural Killer (NK)” cells—white blood cells with tumor-killing capabilities. Then a piece of DNA called “BAFF CAR” is inserted, which gives the NK cells more “specificity” and “power” to kill cancer cells, sparing normal cells.

"NK cells from any donor can be used to make BAFF CAR-NK cells," explains Parameswaran, "and when a need arises, these specialized cells can be thawed and injected into patients." Her lab hopes to validate the tumor-killing potential and safety of BAFF-CAR NK cells using mouse models with support from the Falk Trust.

“Both pharmaceutical companies and clinicians treating B-cell cancer patients have expressed a strong interest in the BAFF CAR-NK cells as a needed therapeutic,” Parameswaran said. “With this funding, we are optimistic to get this product to the clinic within three years.”