The Sentinel


Thursday, April 18, 2019

JITC Letter from the Editor - April 2019

pedro-romero_1__1_.jpgDear JITC Readers,

In the April edition of the JITC Digest, let me call your attention to the following five articles of special significance. First, “Anti-PD-1 therapy elevates Treg/Th balance and increases tumor cell pSmad3 that are both targeted by anti-TGF-beta antibody to promote durable rejection and immunity in squamous cell carcinomas,” by E. Dodagatta-Marri et al. details the development and characterization of a novel panel of murine syngeneic SCC lines created to reflect the heterogeneity of human lung cancer and its responses to anti-PD-1 and anti-TGF-beta therapies. This study demonstrates that anti-PD-1 not only initiates a tumor rejection program, but can also induce a competing TGF-beta-driven immuno-regulatory program in SCCs, effects that were cooperatively blocked by combined PD-1 and TGF-beta inhibition.

Next, “Collagen density regulates the activity of tumor-infiltrating T cells,” by Dorota E. Kuczek et al. reports the use of 3D culture assays to investigate the role of collagen density as a direct regulator of anti-cancer T cell activity. Such results identify a new immune modulatory mechanism dampening T cell activity in the tumor microenvironment, which could constitute a novel therapeutic target for enhancing immunotherapy efficacy.

Furthermore, the article, “Merger of dynamic two-photon and phosphorescence lifetime microscopy reveals dependence of lymphocyte motility on oxygen in solid and hematological tumors,” by Mateusz Rytelewski et al. presents a novel imaging approach developed to elucidate the effect of oxygen tension on the efficacy of anti-tumor immune therapies. Data presented here analyzes the relationship between lymphocyte motility and oxygen distribution using ‘Fast’ Scanning Two-photon Phosphorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FaST-PLIM), a bi-modal imaging regimen that merges high-resolution oxygen imaging with fluorescence-based cellular tracking in in vivo models.

“Mechanisms involved in IL-15 superagonist enhancement of anti-PD-L1 therapy,” by Karin M. Knudson et al. describes for the first time the anti-tumor efficacy of subcutaneously administered IL-15 superagonist N-803 in combination with anti-PD-L1 checkpoint blockade in murine triple negative breast and colon carcinoma models which are non- and/or minimally responsive to either monotherapy. This study provides rationale for further assessment of the clinical potential of combining N-803 with blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 axis.

Finally, Anne Monette et al.’s article, “Immune-enrichment of non-small cell lung cancer baseline biopsies for multiplex profiling define prognostic immune checkpoint combinations for patient stratification,” propose a novel, tumor heterogeneity reducing procedure to extract information from small tumor biopsies for companion diagnostic (CDx) tests for immunotherapy of lung cancer. Developed from immune-dense regions of core needle biopsies from a baseline NSCLC cohort, this new CDx is shown to profile infiltrating immune cell subsets, ICPs, proliferation, and effector T cell markers to better stratify patients for checkpoint blockade combinations using baseline biospecimens of all sizes.

With best regards,

Pedro J. Romero, MD
Editor-in-Chief, Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer

To view the entire April 2019 JITC Digest, please click here

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

President's Message - April 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I wish you all a happy spring. While I certainly do not hope for the next seven months to speed by, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2019), to be held Nov. 6–10, will no doubt be here before we know it. Registration is already open for SITC members (and opens for all on April 9). This is our society’s cornerstone conference, and this year we return to the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. I am already excited to see and welcome back existing members and to meet the new members of our Society.

Last year, 5,000 professionals in the cancer immunotherapy field attended our Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs, a 36 percent increase over 2017. Similarly, we received nearly 800 abstract submissions, a 34 percent increase year-over-year. For me personally and I’m sure for all of us involved in the Society, it has been astounding to witness the growth of our annual gathering of basic scientists, translational researchers, clinicians, industry and governmental representatives and others in recent years.

This year, the Annual Meeting will feature several new oral abstract presentation opportunities. Increasing the number of oral presentations has been a key goal of our Board for several years, affording researchers, and in particular younger investigators, additional time to share the findings of their work and connect to others in the field. First is a Poster Symposium on Thursday, Nov. 7, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., which will comprise several short abstract presentations and expert discussants. Secondly, the number of rapid oral abstract sessions has doubled; two sessions will be held on Friday and two on Saturday. Half of these rapid oral abstract sessions will feature clinical advances in the field. Finally, three designated clinical trial sessions will ensure the conference captures the important clinical trial work being done in the field:
  • High Impact Clinical Trials: Friday, Nov. 8, 4:50-6:15 p.m.
  • Single Agent Phase 1 Clinical Trials: Saturday, Nov. 9, 3:45-5 p.m.
  • Combination Phase 1-2 Clinical Trials: Saturday, Nov. 9, 5:15-6:30 p.m.
More than 16 months of planning and preparations go into each Annual Meeting. Dedicated committee members, lead by Annual Program Committee Chair Sandra Demaria, MD (Weill Cornell Medicine), and assisted by the Board of Directors and faculty, work tirelessly to ensure program schedules contain impactful data and meaningful panel discussions. It’s this devotion and enthusiasm that brings the highest quality data to the SITC’s Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs. For immune therapy of cancer, I believe it is the most influential conference in the field.

Please join me in congratulating our recently announced 2019 Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Award and Lectureship recipient Olivera (Olja) J. Finn, PhD, of University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Finn will deliver her highly anticipated keynote address during the Annual Meeting, on Friday, Nov. 8. I’m also very pleased to announce that Ronald N. Germain, MD, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, will deliver Saturday’s keynote address.

Please remember that SITC members receive discounted SITC 2019 registration rates and early access to housing. There are so many reasons to become a SITC member, and the savings for attending just part of SITC 2019 will more than cover the cost of a membership. So don’t wait, join SITC today to save on your SITC 2019 attendance.

Although our Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs is our most highly attended program, we offer a variety of other opportunities for education and scientific exchange throughout the year, including interim workshops. Two exciting and timely 2019 workshops – dedicated to cancer immune responsiveness and adoptive cellular therapies – are scheduled for Sept. 4–6, 2019, in Houston, Texas, and registration is now open. Participants who attend both back-to-back workshops will receive a 30 percent discount on registration.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President