Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade Dream Team - Stand Up to Cancer
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Dream Teams

Research  >  Research Portfolio  >  Dream Teams  >  Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade Dream Team

SU2C–Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunology Dream Team: Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade and Adoptive Cell Transfer in Cancer Therapy

Grant Term: March 2013–February 2018

The goal of this SU2C–Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Cancer Immunology Dream Team is to induce antitumor responses in immune cells called T cells. The team has taken two approaches to this: blocking the mechanisms that inhibit T cell activity (thereby allowing the T cells to expand, infiltrate, and kill cancer cells) and generating large quantities of T cells in the laboratory, enhancing their cancer-killing abilities, and then transferring them back to patients.

ABOUT THIS TEAM’S RESEARCH

Cancer immunotherapy is based on getting a patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer. This SU2C–CRI Cancer Immunology Dream Team has worked on two cancer immunotherapy approaches.

In one approach, the team uses drugs called checkpoint inhibitors to foil the “tricks” that cancers rely on to escape natural immune cell attack. In the other approach, known as adoptive cell transfer (ACT), the team takes patient’s own immune cells to the lab, makes these cells into more efficient cancer killing machines, and then returns the cells to the patient.

Work by members of this Dream Team contributed to the 2017 FDA approval of two new checkpoint inhibitors, pembrolizumab and nivolumab. The team analyzed tumor samples to determine how checkpoint inhibitors work and to identify biomarkers―molecules that can be measured in patients’ blood, tumor samples, or other biological specimens to predict which patients will respond to immune therapy.

To make better T cells for ACT, the team studies the antigens―the substances that trigger an immune response―expressed by tumor cells to find out how best to improve the efficiency of the T cell attack.

MEET THE TEAM

The top scientists and researchers on the SU2C–CRI Cancer Immunology Dream Team come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the SU2C–CRI Cancer Immunology Dream Team.

Team Members

James P. Allison, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Team Leader

Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles
Team Leader

Drew M. Pardoll, MD, PhD
Johns Hopkins University Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Co-leader

Cassian Yee, MD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Co-leader

James Heath, PhD
California Institute of Technology
Principal Investigator

Ton Schumacher, PhD
Netherlands Cancer Institute
Principal Investigator

Robert E. Behrens
REB Investments, Inc.
Advocate

Debra Black
Melanoma Research Alliance
Advocate

Valerie Guild
AIM at Melanoma
Advocate

Jonathan Simons, MD
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Advocate

Mary Elizabeth Williams
Salon.com
Advocate

James Mancuso, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Project Manager

“The patient’s own immune system can be harnessed to treat some cancers. The SU2C–CRI Dream Team grant will help develop this mode of treatment to more broadly benefit patients.”

Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles

TEAM PROGRESS UPDATES

Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click on the link to see summaries of research results so far for the SU2C–CRI Cancer Immunology Dream Team.

TEAM PROGRESS UPDATES

PUBLICATIONS

Neoadjuvant PD-1 Blockade in Resectable Lung Cancer
Forde PM, Chaft JE, Anagnostou V, et al. (2018)
New England Journal of Medicine 378:1976-1986.
SLC45A2: A Melanoma Antigen with High Tumor Selectivity and Reduced Potential for Autoimmune Toxicity
Park J, Talukder AH, Lim SA, et al. (2017)
Cancer Immunology Research 5:618-29.
Tracking the Fate and Origin of Clinically Relevant Adoptively Transferred CD8+ T Cells in Vivo
Chapuis UG, Desmarais C, Emerson R, et al. (2017)
Science Immunology 2 (8).

CLINICAL TRIAL REFERRALS

Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available; in fact, the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials aren’t completed because not enough people take part.

At StandUpToCancer.org/ClinicalTrials, you’ll find information and answers to common questions about clinical trials. Learn more and talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be the best choice for you.

You can also connect with EmergingMed, a free and confidential clinical trial matching service that provides access to a vast database to help you identify the clinical trials that might be right for you or your loved one.

LEARN MORE