The Sentinel


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Get to Know Sentinel Author: Praveen Bommareddy

(Editor's Note: The Sentinel, the official blog of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, will provide SITC Members a digital space to share their expertise and experience being in or around the field of cancer immunotherapy. To introduce these member authors to readers of The Sentinel, SITC will be publishing Q&As in the coming days.)

 Praveen K Bommareddy   
Title: PhD candidate

Employer: Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

When and why did you become a SITC member?

I became a SITC member in August 2016. I believe SITC is a great platform to get connected to many colleagues in the field of Cancer Immunotherapy and to be updated with the most recent advancements in cancer immunotherapy.

Can you briefly explain the work you are doing in the field?

I work on oncolytic viruses (OVs) which are a recent addition to cancer immunotherapy. OVs have the unique ability to restore/activate innate and adaptive immune responses in tumor microenvironment. OVs can act as in-situ vaccination and can convert a tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) deficient phenotype to  TIL infiltrating phenotype.

Who or what inspired you to choose this specific career path?

The unique ability to leverage a patient’s immune system to fight their own cancer is very fascinating to me. I am very interested in understanding how immunotherapies can augment anti-tumor responses and achieve anti-tumor immunity. Particularly, I am interested in understanding how OVs can convert a TIL deficient tumor microenvironment (TME) to TIL rich TME. I am also interested to study combination strategies using OVs and immune checkpoint blockade. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing in the field?

Immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockers, namely PD-1 and CTLA-4, have revolutionized cancer immunotherapy, but a majority of patients still do not respond to either of these therapies. The presence of TIL’s in TME has been correlated with favorable responses to checkpoint therapy. There is a need to understand/identify therapies which increase TIL’s, which can further be combined with check point blockade.

Currently our understanding on the tumor intrinsic factors which can impact response to checkpoint blockade are limited and this might be due to the lack of a common platform which can collect and analyze patients tumors from ongoing clinical trials.

What topic(s) do you plan to write about for The Sentinel, SITC’s new blog?

 I would like to write about the role of oncolytic viruses in modulating tumor microenvironment.

“Oncolytic Viruses as Cancer Immunotherapies”

What do you hope readers will gain from this new blog?

From this blog, readers can attain basic information on oncolytic viruses (OVs). The role of OVs in modulating tumor microenvironment from TIL deficient to a TIL rich phenotype. I will discuss in brief the possible mechanisms by which OVs can achieve anti-tumor immunity.

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