RPCI Invited To Be Part Of NCI-Funded Immunotherapy Research Network

Monday, April 4, 2011

BUFFALO, NY — Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is one of 27 North American research institutions that have been selected to be part of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN), a new immunotherapy initiative funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, Director of the Center for Immunotherapy and Chair of Gynecologic Oncology at RPCI, will serve as Principal Investigator of the Institute’s role in this collaborative investigative effort.

The CITN is a network of top academic immunologists conducting multicenter research on agents that boost patients’ own immune systems to fight their cancer. The Network was formed to select, design and conduct early-phase trials using priority agents with known and proven biologic function and to provide the high-quality immunogenicity and biomarker data essential to inform subsequent development pathways, leading to the broad availability of these agents for treating patients with cancer.

“We’re really excited about the fact that the CITN now exists, because this kind of interaction and support can only benefit the work that each member site will contribute,” said Dr. Odunsi, who is also a Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Research Program Director for the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at RPCI. “Here at RPCI, we’re looking at strategies utilizing vaccines, cellular therapies and immune modulation, and our role in the CITN is going to help us conduct robust trials in these areas and, ultimately, help us speed up the process of getting therapies to cancer patients.”

The CITN is charged with accelerating the development of promising agents that have already been discovered but are not currently used to treat patients with cancer, and coordinating the efforts of academia, industry and philanthropic foundations in these efforts. CITN research will focus on testing high-priority agents, target antigens and regimens ranked by three NCI workshops beginning with the 2007 “NCI Immunotherapy Agent Workshop.” Trials will be conducted by member sites, supported by subcontracts within the COSC award; tumor immunology laboratories at the member sites will perform standardized immunomonitoring, biomarker assessments and correlative studies using patient samples.

The 27 participating sites were selected through an open competitive process. The members of the CITN are scheduled to meet May 9-10 in Bethesda, MD, to discuss Network operations and outline the first concepts to be studied.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org