Reshmi Parameswaran, PhD Secures School of Medicine’s Fifth Falk Catalyst Award

Reshmi Parameswaran standing outdoors with sunlight

Funding to support development of cell therapy to treat B cell cancers.

A $300,000 two-year grant from the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust will allow researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine to continue work on research for the treatment of B cell cancers—which includes Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia (CLL), Multiple Myeloma (MM), Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Reshmi Parameswaran, an assistant professor of the department of medicine at the School of Medicine and a member of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, leads a research team working to develop, optimize, and evaluate BAFF-CAR NK cell therapy for the treatment of B cell cancers. Preliminary research indicates that BAFF CAR-NK cells provide better therapy treatment options by addressing and overcoming the current disadvantage of existing therapies.

"BAFF receptors are expressed by cancer cells even from patients relapsed from chemotherapies and CD19 CAR-T therapies, so BAFF CAR-NK cells will be efficacious in treating these difficult to treat cancers", Dr. Parameswaran explains. "We anticipate BAFF CAR-NK cells available as an off-the-shelf product."

Dr. Parameswaran explains that NK cells from random donors can be used to generate CAR-NK cells as NK cells do not elicit Graft v/s Host response (GvHD). "To make an allogeneic ‘off-the-shelf NK product, blood is collected from healthy donors, NK cells are isolated and are modified with BAFF CAR, after which the BAFF CAR-NK cells are expanded ex-vivo and kept frozen," she says.

With this new grant, researchers at the School of Medicine have now been awarded six grants totaling nearly $3 million from the Falk Medical Research Trust for their work since 2014. All these projects received initial support from the School of Medicine’s therapeutics Accelerator program, the Council to Advance Human Health. One of the projects, an antivirulent agent, has already been licensed by Q2Pharma Ltd. for potential use in treating antibiotic-resistant infections.

About the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust

The Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust was created by Marian Falk in 1979 to fund “medical research to improve treatments of the past and eventually find cures for diseases for which no definite cure is known” (Falk Catalyst Awards Program). Bank of America, N.A., serves as Trustee for the Falk Medical Research Trust and The Medical Foundation at Health Resources in Action is pleased to manage the grant making for the Falk Award Programs on their behalf. The Medical Foundation also oversees other high-impact biomedical research grant programs to accelerate medical discovery and promote public health.

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