Don J. Diamond, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. His research includes developing vaccines to combat hematologic malignancies, solid tumors, and infectious pathogens such as the herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus (CMV) HIV.
The prospect of an effective CMV vaccine means significant benefits for immunocompromised patients such as those with AIDS, or stem cell and solid organ transplant recipients. A therapeutic CMV peptide vaccine developed at City of Hope is undergoing phase II human efficacy testing in City of Hope stem cell transplant recipients, while a second generation CMV vaccine based on the attenuated poxvirus MVA, or modified vaccinia Ankara, is currently undergoing phase I human safety testing.
A vaccine based on the MVA platform expressing unmutated p53 has completed phase I human testing in City of Hope gastrointestinal cancer patients. In the laboratory, we are refining a therapeutic platform based on attenuated Salmonella bacterium to treat a range of malignancies including pancreatic, skin and brain cancers. In collaboration with Peter Barry, Ph.D., of University of California at Davis and the National Primate Research Center, we are developing a prophylactic CMV vaccine that promises to control gestational infection that causes a wide range of birth defects that annually afflict close to 4,000 American children.