Roswell Park Faculty Members Offer Expert Commentary on Immunotherapy Research

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Targeted immunotherapy offers promise for metastatic cervical cancer, according to Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Cancer Center Deputy Director, Executive Director of the Center for Immunotherapy, and Chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Odunsi offered this opinion in an editorial published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Co-authors for the commentary are Emese Zsiros, MD, PhD, Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Takemasa Tsuji, PhD, Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park. The editorial was also featured in a news story published by Internal Medicine News.

Dr. Odunsi and colleagues offered insight into research conducted by Christian Hinrich, MD, Assistant Clinical Investigator, Center of Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute. The pilot study found immunological responses from nine women diagnosed with metastatic cervical cancer who were treated with re-engineered cancer fighting T cells.

Dr. Odunsi characterized the research as a proof of concept study. “This represents a significant advance for this approach to treatment because until now, most adoptive T-cell therapies studies have involved hematological malignancies or melanoma,” said Dr. Odunsi. “Metastatic cervical cancer is a hard-to-treat disease, and finding a treatment that can halt its progression is very promising news for patients with any type of progressive, advanced solid tumor.”

A team of researchers at Roswell Park, under the leadership of Dr. Odunsi, received a prestigious grant of nearly $12 million from New York State Stem Cell Science Program to develop a novel adoptive T cell therapy approach. In this targeted therapy, stem cells are taken from patients’ blood, grown into large numbers, and re-engineered. The reprogrammed cells are then infused back into those patients to become a continuous, potentially lifelong source of cancer-fighting immune cells.

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Deborah Pettibone, Public Information Specialist