A man in a UCLA lab smiles into the camera.
Dr. John Lee

Dr. John Lee receives grants from Department of Defense

The Department of Defense awarded Dr. John Lee, associate professor-in-residence in the division of Hematology/Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, with its Impact and Idea Development Awards to help advance more effective treatments for prostate and bladder cancers. 

The Impact Award will help Lee, a member of the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, test a new gated combinatorial drug delivery approach to target prostate cancer cells in a precise and controlled manner with the hope of maximizing the drug’s effectiveness in destroying cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells. This approach has the potential not only to increase the potency of the treatment, but also help overcome resistance mechanisms that cancer cells may develop against single drugs. 

The Idea Development Award supports Lee’s work looking at the use of chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR, T-cell therapy as a treatment for patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, which can be a difficult cancer to treat and often comes back after initial therapies. Lee and his team have developed CAR T-cells that specifically target a protein called NECTIN4 that's commonly found on bladder cancer cells. The team hopes by to targeting and killing the cancer cells directly inside the bladder, they can avoid some of the side effects and complications associated with traditional treatments.

“If successful, these research developments could have a significant impact on patients' lives by offering less invasive and more effective treatment options for the millions of people who are affected by prostate and bladder cancer,” Lee said. 

Cancer & Immunotherapy