MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (07/21/2023) — Beau Webber, PhD, with the University of Minnesota Medical School recently received a $330,000 grant from CURE Childhood Cancer. CURE awards grants to top scientists at leading pediatric cancer research institutions across the nation. 

“We’re thrilled for this opportunity to advance an innovative new approach to treating osteosarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer that has seen minimal advance in treatment over the past two decades,” said Dr. Webber, an associate professor at the U of M Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center member.

Dr. Webber received a two-year Translation to CURE award to study genetically engineered gamma delta T cells for treatment of metastatic osteosarcoma. This type of bone cancer spreads to other parts of the body and commonly occurs in children, teenagers and young adults. The project is a collaborative effort between Drs. Webber and Branden Moriarity, who is also an associate professor at the U of M Medical School.

While immune cell-based therapies have shown tremendous promise against blood cancers, they have been less successful against solid cancers like osteosarcoma. These treatments must be custom made from each patient’s own cells to avoid complications and are very expensive. Gamma delta T cells, however, have the potential to treat cancer while addressing the limitations of other immune-cell based therapies.

“Gamma delta T cells are an underexplored immune cell type with unique properties that may allow them to be more effective against solid tumors like osteosarcoma,” Dr. Webber said. “These cells can be collected from a healthy individual and given to a cancer patient without complications seen with other types of T cells.”

CURE’s Peer Review Committee reviewed more than 50 proposals to assess both scientific merit and alignment with CURE’s goals. Of those proposals, CURE selected 12 studies to fund, most of which offer hope of testing more effective treatments for childhood cancers with poor prognosis within 2-3 years.


About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. We acknowledge that the U of M Medical School, both the Twin Cities campus and Duluth campus, is located on traditional, ancestral and contemporary lands of the Dakota and the Ojibwe, and scores of other Indigenous people, and we affirm our commitment to tribal communities and their sovereignty as we seek to improve and strengthen our relations with tribal nations. For more information about the U of M Medical School, please visit med.umn.edu

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, is the Twin Cities’ only Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated ‘Outstanding’ by the National Cancer Institute. As Minnesota’s Cancer Center, we have served the entire state for more than 30 years. Our researchers, educators, and care providers work to discover the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and cancer-related diseases. Learn more at cancer.umn.edu.