The Sentinel


Thursday, September 28, 2017

President's Message - September 2017

Dear Colleagues,

On Aug. 30, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved tisagenlecleucel, a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) therapy directed against CD19, for certain pediatric and young adult patients with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). As the first gene therapy to receive FDA approval, this is a major breakthrough and represents the culmination of years of work from researchers and clinicians in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Through educational opportunities and the promotion of collaboration among clinicians and scientists from around the world, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) serves as a driving force behind recent progress in cellular therapies. For example, abstract presentations and informational sessions highlighting the latest research on tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, gene transfer technology and adoptive cellular therapies have been a mainstay in our meetings for years.

Key leaders in the field – including Carl June, MD; Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD; and Michel Sadelain, MD – have used the platform of the SITC Annual Meeting to present their research. Dedicated sessions have covered topics addressing issues spanning basic science and clinical aspects of immune cell-based therapy, including: the engineering of signaling constructs and of vectors to increase the efficiency of gene transfer; the identification of target cells; optimization of culture growth factors, ways to detect the presence of cells and their longevity in vivo; as well as regulatory aspects of utilizing cellular therapies in the clinic.

Building on the excitement of the recent FDA approval, Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD will deliver a highly anticipated keynote address on the CAR T revolution in leukemia at the SITC 2017 Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Md. In addition, the final day of the program will feature a session on “Genetically Modified Cell Therapy” co-chaired by Carl H. June, MD; Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD; and Helen E. Heslop, MD.

There is still so much more to come for our field. We look forward to seeing you all at SITC 2017 to learn about the next exciting breakthroughs in the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy.

Best Wishes,

Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD

SITC President