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Precision Medicine
CPRIT Funding to Drive New Discoveries in Cancer Therapeutics
CPRIT Funding to Drive New Discoveries in Cancer Therapeutics
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Three Houston Methodist researchers have received funding from The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to address critical gaps in cancer research and therapeutics. Grants were awarded to facilitate the development of a novel organoid platform and the therapeutic efficacy of a new combination therapy for treating the aggressive doublehit lymphoma or DHL cancer.
01
An Innovative New Tool to Enable Drug Discovery and Personalized Medicine
A High Impact/High Risk Award from CPRIT is facilitating the development of a novel organoid platform – a mini-brain model that mimics glioblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer.

With a new High Impact/High Risk Award from CPRIT, Robert C. Krencik, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, is developing a reproducible and physiologically accurate model of human glioblastoma by incorporating patient-specific glioblastoma stem cells within three-dimensional spheres of human neural cells. This model can be utilized as a tool to screen drugs and test the effectiveness of potential treatment options for glioblastoma and other brain cancers. Using glioblastoma stem cells from individual patients will also enable a personalized approach to treatment selection.
“This platform will not only serve as an important tool for drug discovery and personalized medicine, it will also enhance our understanding of cell interactions within the glioblastoma microenvironment.”
Robert C. Krencik, PhD
02
Devising a Novel Combination Treatment for Aggressive Double-hit Lymphoma
Yulin Li, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Immunotherapy in Oncology, Yulin Li, MD, PhD, received CPRIT funding to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of a new combination therapy for treating the aggressive double-hit lymphoma or DHL cancer.
DHL simultaneously activates multiple cancer-causing oncogenes, making it very difficult to treat with frontline chemotherapy. While inactivating oncogenes with targeted therapy effectively kills tumor cells, this effect is limited by relapse and treatment resistance. In contrast, immunotherapies can provide a long-term survival benefit but are less effective with DHL because of reduced expression of the common anti-cancer immunotherapy, CD20. Li believes that combining the treatment approaches in a targeted therapy that suppresses oncogenes together with anti-CD20 immunotherapy holds great promise.
If successful, this approach may lead to a new paradigm of coupling targeted suppression of multiple oncogenes with simultaneous engagement of the immune system.
- Yulin Li, MD, PhD
03
Expanding the RNAcore to Encompass the Entire Cycle of a Cure
A third CPRIT grant awarded Houston Methodist $4 million to further the RNAcore’s evolution from a research and clinical-grade RNA provider to the only academic group in the U.S. to provide integrated RNA therapeutics services that span from the conception of an idea to commercialization.
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