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University of Maryland opens lab for immunotherapy

Davidge Hall, UM School of Medicine, Baltimore (KudzuVine/public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Davidge Hall, UM School of Medicine, Baltimore (KudzuVine/public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The University of Maryland School of Medicine Monday opened a lab the university hopes will be home to the creation of the next generation of cancer cures.

The Fannie Angelos Cellular Therapeutics Lab will be used for immunotherapy, engineering cells that can help a patient’s immune system attack and eliminate cancer. Cells could also be developed to address other diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.

“Immunotherapy is an extremely exciting area of scientific endeavor, especially for the treatment of cancer,” Dr. E. Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement. “This new laboratory has the potential to yield groundbreaking findings, not only for scientists studying cancer but for many other disciplines as well.”

The lab was funded with a $1 million gift from Peter Angelos in honor of his sister Fannie Angelos, who died in 2015 from complications of a bone marrow disorder.

The state-of-the-art lab will be a part of the university’s comprehensive cancer center. Research will be conducted by physician-scientists from the school of medicine. Right now, these researchers go to outside facilities and other academic institutions to to treat patients in clinical trials with genetically modified cells.

“Having our own cell-processing laboratory will increase our ability to offer novel and promising cell-based therapies to our patients,” Dr. Aaron P. Rapoport, director of the lab, said in a statement. “It will also help our investigators move their basic and preclinical research into the clinic more quickly so that patients may benefit from our discoveries.”

Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore, Baltimore County and College Park campuses will have access to the new lab. Private biomedical companies can also lease space.

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