The 2020 Lymphoma Canada Research Grant

It is with great pleasure that we announce the recipients of the 2020 Lymphoma Canada Research Grant; Drs. Rob Laister and Sam Saibil from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Dr. Laister holds a PhD in Medical Biophysics and is a Group Leader and Scientific Associate at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Dr. Sam Saibil holds an MD/PhD in Immunology and is a staff oncologist in the Division of Medical Oncology and Haematology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Drs. Laister and Saibil have a particular interest in targeted treatments for haematological malignancies and are collaborating to advance research on CAR-T cell therapy.

CAR-T therapy, or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy, is a type of immunotherapy that modifies a patient’s T cells to better detect and destroy lymphoma. As part of the body’s immune system, T cells are a type of white blood cell that attacks virus-infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells. Once injected into a patient, CAR-T cells are programmed to expand and then seek out and destroy the patient’s lymphoma cells.

While some patients respond to CAR-T therapy very well and their disease goes into remission, there are still others that don’t and it’s unknown why. Drs. Rob Laister & Sam Saibil are tackling this very question at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. In your body, T-cells, like automobiles, can come in different models. Yet the CAR-T cells currently used in the clinic, represent only the base model of T-cells. It is unknown whether this base model of CAR-T cells is the best model to fight lymphoma cells. The goal of their research project is to determine whether they can engineer different models of CAR-T cells to make them more effective at killing lymphoma cells. By increasing the effectiveness of CAR-T therapy, this can lead to longer remission times and higher success rates in a larger number of patients!

Congratulations Drs. Rob Laister and Sam Saibil!