The Sentinel


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

JITC Letter from the Editor - May 2019

pedro-romero_1__1_.jpgDear JITC Readers,

In the May edition of the JITC Digest, I would like to call your attention to the following five articles of special interest. First, “Determinant roles of dendritic cell-expressed Notch Delta-like and Jagged ligands on anti-tumor T cell immunity” by Elena E. Tchekneva et al. investigates the specific roles of Notch ligands in modulating T cell responses through genetic and pharmacological approaches in mouse models of lung and pancreatic tumors and cardiac allograft rejection. This study emphasizes the importance of specific expression of Notch ligands on dendritic cells by revealing their distinct roles in the regulation of T cell immunity, and suggests opportunities for modulating immune outcomes using engineered Notch ligand constructs.

Next, “Effective cancer immunotherapy by natural mouse conventional type-1 dendritic cells bearing dead tumor antigen,” by Stefanie K. Wculek et al. discusses the potential of using natural conventional type 1 DCs (cDC1s) as a syngeneic vaccine in cancer therapy and in a proof-of-principle study, demonstrates the feasibility and efficacy of a personalized anti-cancer treatment based on cross-presenting cDC1-based vaccination that does not require identification of tumor neoantigens. Such results provide valuable pre-clinical data regarding the efficacy of therapeutic cDC1-based anti-cancer vaccination for the development of next-generation DC vaccines.

Furthermore, the article, “CEA expression heterogeneity and plasticity confer resistance to the CEA-targeting bispecific immunotherapy antibody cibisatamab (CEA-TCB) in patient-derived colorectal cancer organoids,” by Reyes Gonzalez-Exposito et al. describes the benefits of using 3D in vitro patient derived organoid (PDO) models in place of patient cells lines to better represent the biological characteristics of patient tumors. The authors assess carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) expression heterogeneity as a common finding in colorectal cancer PDOs from therapy resistant metastatic CRCs and the possible mechanisms by which resistance to cibisatamab immunotherapy may occur.

“Exploring the emerging role of the microbiome in cancer immunotherapy,” by Jessica Fessler et al. examines recent research on the bacterial component of the microbiota, the connection between certain bacteria and the process of carcinogenesis, as well as implications for how the microbiota may be modulating the efficacy and toxicity of cancer immunotherapy. Importantly, this review suggests future clinical implications involving exploitation of the host-microbiome interdependency for delivery of more potent therapy.

Finally, Marjolaine Debant et al.’s article, “STIM1 at the plasma membrane as a new target in progressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia,” extensively analyzes calcium entry in CLL cells, revealing that in patients with progressive disease, calcium signaling deregulation may be due to a constitutive and B cell receptor (BCR)-independent calcium entry pathway involving membrane-associated STIM1. This study warrants further evaluation of a mAb targeting STIM1PM in cancer therapy alone or in combination.

With best regards,

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

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

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

President's Message - May 2019

Dear Colleagues,

The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) hosts dozens of educational and scientific meetings each year to support the primary mission of the society, which is to improve cancer patient outcomes by advancing the science and application of cancer immunotherapy. In this letter I bring to your attention this year’s interim workshops, which provide a forum to address specific important and evolving areas in our field. The workshops will focus on cancer immune responsiveness and adoptive cellular therapies and will be organized by prominent members of the immuno-oncology community, including Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD (NanoString Technologies, Inc.), Francesco M. Marincola, MD (Refuge Biotechnologies, Inc.), and Katayoun Rezvani, MD, PhD (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center).

Both multi-day programs will bring together some of the foremost experts and future leaders in the science and clinical application of immune therapies. Participants will review current progress as the basis to initiate discussions of challenges and potential solutions to advance the field. The assembled researchers and clinicians usually produce a formal output from the meeting, often published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC), the society’s open access, peer-reviewed online journal.

On Sept. 4-5, 2019, in Houston, Texas, the SITC Cancer Immune Responsiveness Task Force will, for the second consecutive year, host a Cancer Immune Responsiveness Workshop. The focus on understanding cancer immune responsiveness is timely and critical for our field, and could lead to improved prognostic and predictive biomarkers, improved patient selection, more rational combination strategies in the clinic and more efficient clinical development of single agents and combinations. Didactic lectures and working groups will cover key topics such as the role of host genetics and epigenetics in immune responsiveness; transcription patterns indicative of distinct tumor immune landscapes; and more. Immediately following, on Sept. 5-6, 2019, SITC will host the Adoptive Cellular Therapies Workshop. The field of adoptive cell therapy is receiving increased attention from scientists, clinicians, patients, regulators and payors following the 2017 U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapies for patients with lymphoma and leukemia. This is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and promising areas of clinical medicine, and this program will bring together experts to address the evolving science of cell engineering, novel strategies to improve the overall risk/benefit profile, clinical development, regulatory challenges and more.

Additionally, three collaborative sessions, taking place the morning of Sept. 5, will allow attendees from both workshops to discuss common challenges of the field and new concepts that impact cancer immune responsiveness and adoptive cellular therapies.

Please consider joining us for both programs over the course of three days. Participants who register for both workshops will receive a 30 percent discount.

Finally, for those attending the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago, I hope you consider joining me, the SITC staff and your fellow SITC colleagues and friends at SITC’s annual fundraiser for the Forward Fund, The CheckPoints Party. Come and party with the Checkpoints band (stars in the true sense of the word, including 2018 Nobel Laureate James P. Allison, PhD) beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, at Buddy Guy’s Legends (700 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago).

VIP tickets are available online or by calling 414-271-2456. General admission at the door is available on a first-come, first-served basis, with suggested donation of $30. Proceeds support SITC’s Forward Fund, providing grant opportunities to promising early career scientists in the field. You can learn about some of the young investigators who have benefited from the SITC Forward Fund by viewing the Faces of the Forward Fund.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President