University of Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Brian Y.W. Shin, Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0

#4 - University of Pennsylvania
Fiscal 2013 NIH funding:
$451.19 million
Fiscal 2012 NIH funding: $457.49 million
Change in funding: -$6.3 million
Number of awards in 2013: 1,081
Number of awards in 2012: 1,053

The University of Pennsylvania is home to prominent cancer researcher Carl June, who in December 2013 revealed another set of impressive data for his pioneering cancer-fighting T cell technology that Novartis ($NVS) licensed in 2012. A total of 19 of 22 pediatric patients with lethal cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia experienced complete remissions after being treated with the CAR T therapy, CTL019, a T cell engineered to target cancer cells that express the CD19 protein. Among 32 adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 7 experienced a complete remission and 15 responded to the therapy. The data were discussed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans.

"These CTL019 data at ASH reinforce that CAR therapy has the potential to change the treatment paradigm for those suffering from various types of leukemia," June said in a statement. Next, June plans to set up multicenter studies to test the treatment beginning this year.

Also last year, UPenn researchers made progress in preclinical research, detailing in Cell Reports in June a potentially major step toward better treatments for pancreatic cancer--a deadly type of cancer with an overall 5-year survival rate of about 6%. Currently, there's no noninvasive way to detect early cells that indicate future disease, a major reason why pancreatic cancer typically is detected so late in its course. Using stem cell technology, investigators at the Perelman School of Medicine created a cell line from a patient with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, or pancreatic cancer. The Penn researchers say it's the first human-cell model to show the early progression of the disease. 

For more:
Novartis/Penn's customized T cell wows ASH with stellar leukemia data
Penn scientists create human-cell model of pancreatic cancer

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