Grant helps search for cancer vaccine

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has awarded a $6.25 million grant to Ronald Levy, MD, chief of the Division of Oncology, for a cross-disciplinary effort at Stanford to develop personalized vaccines against lymphoma.

The grant is part of the society's specialized research center program, which encourages collaboration among scientists in different disciplines in the quest to develop cures for blood cancers. The Stanford project involves researchers in a number of disciplines, including biochemistry, bioengineering, molecular pharmacology and oncology.

Levy and his team are seeking to develop a vaccine that can be tailored to each lymphoma patient by mapping the circuitry inside individual lymphoma cells.

Their plan is to decipher the signals that drive the lymphoma process in each patient, and thus be able to determine which antibodies would attack the lymphoma cells. That would let them make a vaccine that would destroy only the cancer cells and avoid the debilitating side effects that often accompany chemotherapy.

"The use of the immune system to treat lymphoma is something that originated here," said Levy. "This is the next iteration."

The grant includes $1 million from Mrs. Joseph Sanfilippo, PhD, School of Education, whose husband and father died of leukemia. The money was donated through the Joseph Sanfilippo Memorial Fund.