Promising research currently underway at Roswell Park is the development of a vaccine that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer. Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, and colleagues are combining efforts to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine treatment, which they hope will be tested in large-scale clinical studies. Early ovarian cancer vaccine studies found that patients with tumors that test positive for the antigen NY-ESO-1 who had previously been treated for ovarian cancer did respond to the vaccine, and some continued to respond up to 12 months after immunization, suggesting a long-lasting effect.
The new Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park, headed by Dr. Odunsi, brings together a critical mass of clinical investigators and scientists at the newly established Immune Analysis Facility and Therapeutic Cell Production Facility. These top minds and cutting-edge resources will put RPCI on the fast track toward developing effective new immunotherapies like the cancer vaccine, as well as antibody therapy, cellular therapy and immune-response modifiers that may forever alter the fight against cancer.
Oncologists at RPCI have been at the forefront of clinical research in gynecologic cancers since the 1970s, when they founded the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). Today, as one of the National Cancer Institute’s funded research groups, the GOG encompasses more than 50 principal centers and more than 160 affiliate institutions, paving the way and setting the standard for cancer research and treatment.
It is because of GOG studies that patients have access to the most current and up-to-date treatments, which are shaping the standard of care for gynecologic cancers worldwide. One example of a treatment born out of GOG research efforts is intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy.
Roswell Park maintains one of the first Clinical Research Centers in the nation that focuses specifically on the development of new cancer treatments. The Center provides more treatment options for patients through clinical research studies, and makes it possible to expand RPCI’s Phase I program, which represents the first step toward FDA approval.