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NYMC: Researcher Receives $1.7 Million to Develop T-Cells Therapies with Virus-Specific T-Cells

Dr. Mitchell Cairo investigates life-saving treatment for immune-compromised populations.

November 07, 2019
Mitchell S. Cairo, M.D. Headshot
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Mitchell S. Cairo, M.D., professor of pediatrics, medicine, pathology, microbiology and immunology and cell biology and anatomy, and associate chair of the Department of Pediatrics at New York Medical College, received a four-year award totaling $1.7 million from the Food and Drug Administration (RO1 FD006363-01A1) to investigate safe and effective treatments for immune compromised patients with Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV) or adenovirus (ADV). An internationally-renowned expert in the realm of childhood cancer, stem cell transplantation and cell therapy and translational immunology, Dr. Cairo’s study would be a boon for his patients who undergo stem cell transplants that treat childhood cancers and lethal blood disorders but may result in immune deficiencies. Opportunistic infections including EBV, CMV and ADV who are resistant to standard anti-viral antibiotic therapy, are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients who receive allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

“Unfortunately, there is no FDA approved anti-viral therapy for this orphan patient population,” explains Dr. Cairo. An orphan population is the term used for populations with a disease that is so rare that the drug industry is reluctant to develop treatments under usual marketing conditions. “This study investigates the safety and efficacy of treating these orphan patients with viral specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs), manufactured by a unique process that isolates these CTLs on their functional and activation characteristics—ultimately leading to FDA market approval,” he says.

As both a clinical researcher and a pediatrician, Dr. Cairo’s drive to identify novel therapies for his patients is based on his philosophy that—when it comes to treating his young patients his approach must always be the same – considering them as if they were his own children. "There's only one philosophy. If this was my child, what would I want done,” he says.