Spring 2021 – We Miss You!

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Dr. Leonard is healthy and happy, enjoying the spring weather and digging in the dirt in his gardens. He is attending weekly lab meetings and THRILLED with the current activities and discoveries in the cancer research lab.

However, WE MISS YOU! Again for 2021, for everyone’s safety, we have canceled our primary spring fundraiser and can’t wait to GO BIG on April 14th, 2022 for Doc’s Cancer Shootout at the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club.

This means we will need to get creative in fundraising for 2021, and again are asking for your help to reach our matching funds goal of  $125,000 from Hubbard Broadcasting.

One way we will be raising funds is by conducting an online K-bid auction again with donated items. Please let us know if you have any items, services, or gift cards to donate to the cause!

Also, let us know if you would like Dr. Leonard to attend any small group meet and greets to raise awareness for the cancer fund and the cancer research lab. And let us know if you  have any other fundraising ideas!

Other than that, we will be counting on direct contributions to help fund the lab for 2021 to bridge the cancer fund to 2022 for a FULL and FABULOUS Doc’s Cancer Shootout celebrating 30 years of cancer research!

Thank you so much for standing with us through this difficult year. We sincerely hope this note finds you healthy and strong. And please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions or just want to chat with Dr. Leonard. Did I mention he MISSES YOU?!

Below is a recent lab update from Lance with the exciting progress that keeps Dr. Leonard engaged and eager to reach FDA clinical trials.

Take Care, Bonnie

A Summary of Experiments and How They Affect Treatment

All of the experiments being performed in our laboratory are designed to increase the ability of our genetically engineered bacteria to induce the immune system to eliminate cancer and guard against its return, without the debilitating side effects of current cancer therapy. These experiments include: 1) optimizing the secretion of immune modulating proteins from bacteria into tumors; 2) determining conditions for multiple dosing of the bacteria; 3) analysis of the molecular and cellular changes in tumors in response to treatment with bacterial strains secreting various immune modulating proteins.

Initially, our bacteria were engineered to secrete proteins through a membrane pore system normally used by pathogenic bacteria to secrete toxins. While this was successful and resulted in a degree of anticancer efficacy, we are testing a more robust system to secrete more immune modulating protein through a molecular apparatus normally used by the bacteria to secrete proteins to elongate their flagella. Secreting more immune modulating proteins should result in a stronger anticancer immune response.

Cancer therapy is usually given in multiple doses over time to ensure tumors are completely destroyed and residual disease is eliminated. However, once the immune system encounters our bacteria, it is better able to eliminate additional doses of the bacteria before they can reach tumors and secrete immune modulating proteins. Therefore, we are working to engineer the ability of our bacteria to remain stealthy upon multiple dosing. Two mechanisms are being tested. First, we have engineered a strain of bacteria to encapsulate itself in a sugar coat while being grown prior to dosing. This coat will eliminate the ability of the immune system to detect any bacterial surface proteins it became aware of during the first dosing with the uncoated bacteria. Second, we are wrapping our bacteria in a coat of fat that will also protect it from interacting with previously established immune surveillance. These methods of increased bacterial stealth will allow multiple dosing and an extended anticancer immune response.

Analyzing the molecular and cellular changes in the tumor microenvironment in response to the various immune modulating proteins secreted from bacterial strains will allow selection of the most efficacious strains to be included in the therapy based on anticancer immune mechanisms. Using mass spectrometry to analyze the concentration of thousands of proteins in the fluid surrounding cancer cells in treated tumors, we are examining changes in the molecular immune state in response to treatment. Similarly, using flow cytometry to analyze the concentration and state of immune cells within tumors also allows for mechanistic determination of the effect of each bacterial strain on the antitumor immune response.

These experiments are allowing continual optimization of our nontoxic anticancer bacterial immune therapy and will soon allow translation into human clinical trials.

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