The Sentinel


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

President's Message – February 2017

Dear Colleagues,
We have seen tremendous progress in the field of cancer immunotherapy in recent years, and the potential exists to improve the benefits obtained with monotherapy by combining drugs with complementary mechanisms of action. Well over 500 trials of immune-based combination therapies are underway; coupled with increasing opportunities for collaboration between the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, government and academia, the field is at an exciting juncture where the potential for improved therapeutic options has never been greater.
To this end, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) Combination Immunotherapies Task Force has just published a white paper entitled; “Combination immunotherapy: a road map”, in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. Building on previous work in this area, the article explores the most important hypothesis-driven prospects for combination therapies. Going beyond this, however, it addresses the applicability of mouse models for drug testing; safety considerations in early clinical testing; the need for innovative, flexible early phase clinical trial designs; and appropriate safety and efficacy endpoints for early phase clinical trials, all specifically in the setting of combination immunotherapy. With greater understanding of these agents’ mechanisms of action – and of the counter-defense mounted by tumors – we anticipate novel combinations will increase the number of patients who respond to immunotherapy, the tolerability of treatments, and the duration of treatment response.
The field took a big step forward with the FDA’s recent approval of nivolumab for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma following progression on a platinum-containing chemotherapy. Nivolumab is the second immunotherapy (and first PD-1 targeted agent) approved in this setting and provides another much needed option for patients with advanced disease. In light of this recent progress and the growing number of drug approvals, SITC is developing a Cancer Immunotherapy Guideline for bladder cancer to meet the growing demand for expert advice on the optimal use of immunotherapy in this setting. Please watch for an announcement in the coming weeks for a Call for Comment on the manuscript. We encourage all SITC members to take advantage of the opportunity to provide feedback on this important guidelines document.
Finally, with regard to recent events, SITC is committed to ensuring our members and stakeholders from all over the world are able to participate in our scientific exchange and networking opportunities, access our educational meetings and resources, and participate in work that all moves the cancer immunotherapy field forward. We will continue to monitor events closely and support our members.
On behalf of the society, thank you for your support of SITC and your efforts for the cancer immunotherapy field.

Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD
SITC President

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