December 8, 2021
UC San Francisco has launched the Baszucki Lymphoma Therapeutics Initiative to increase the effectiveness and availability of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapy for lymphoma patients. Jan Ellison Baszucki and her husband, Roblox CEO David Baszucki, gifted $6 million over five years to support the initiative. After witnessing Jan’s father recover from a near-fatal lymphoma thanks to treatment with CAR T therapy, the couple wanted to help accelerate progress in the field so more families can benefit.
An emerging approach to immunotherapy, CAR T therapy has dramatically increased survival rates for patients with certain hard-to-treat blood cancers. It also shows promise for treating some solid tumors as well as diseases beyond cancer, including autoimmunity and neurodegeneration. The therapy involves harvesting T cells from a patient’s blood and genetically engineering them to kill cancer cells by detecting specific molecular targets, called antigens, on the cancer cells’ surface. The engineered T cells are then cultured to increase their numbers and infused back into the patient’s bloodstream, where they act as a “living therapeutic” against the cancer cells.