The Sentinel


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

JITC Letter from the Editor - July 2019

pedro-romero_1__1_.jpgDear JITC Readers,

In the July edition of the JITC Digest, I would like to draw attention to the following articles. First, “Final analyses of OPTiM: a randomized phase III trial of talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) versus granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in unresectable stage III–IV melanoma” by Robert H. I. Andtbacka et al. reports the final analysis of OS, objective response and complete responders in the OPTiM trial performed 3 years after the last patient was randomized. Compared to GM-CSF, T-VEC resulted in durable CR rates associated with prolonged survival, most notably in patients with early metastatic melanoma (stage IIIB–IVM1a).

Next, the research article entitled “DNA damage repair gene mutations and their association with tumor immune regulatory gene expression in muscle invasive bladder cancer subtypes,” by Thiago Vidotto et al. investigated the pre-treatment immune landscape for patients with muscle invasive urothelial cancer (MIUC) using the Cibersort tools. Through correlation of immune regulatory gene expression profiles from the TCGA, this study tests the hypothesis that pre-treatment immune contexture and subsequent response of MIUC is dictated by cancer cell intrinsic events such as DDR deficiency. Results suggest a potential co-activation of multiple compensatory immune checkpoint pathways in pre-treatment MIUC, and warrant further development of combined biomarker and immunomodulatory treatment approaches in UC.

Furthermore, the article, “PD-1 signaling affects cristae morphology and leads to mitochondrial dysfunction in human CD8+ T lymphocytes,” by Jesús Ogando et al. analyzed gene expression profiles of human CD8+ T cells in conditions that mimic simultaneous engagement of PD-1 and the TCR/CD3 complex. This study points to mitochondria as the main targets of PD-1 inhibitory activity and shows that PD-1 engagement triggers a specific, time-dependent genetic program different from that in resting cells, suggesting that in addition to blocking TCR-mediated signals, PD-1 can target specific signaling pathways that dysregulate T cell function, including glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation.

“Tumor-associated macrophage expression of interferon regulatory Factor-8 (IRF8) is a predictor of progression and patient survival in renal cell carcinoma,” by Jason B. Muhitch et al. investigated whether levels of IRF8, a protein recently identified in nephrectomy and metastatic tissues from ccRCC patients as a regulator of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and macrophage responses to pathogens, correlated with disease progression. This study evaluated IRF8 expression by TAMs and provides the first evidence that protein expression of this transcription factor is decreased in advanced stage patient specimens and may be used to predict long-term survival in a subset of ccRCC patients.

Finally, Marit M. Melssen et al.’s study, “A multipeptide vaccine plus toll-like receptor agonists LPS or polyICLC in combination with incomplete Freund’s adjuvant in melanoma patients,” tested whether vaccination with 12 short melanoma peptides in combination with TLR agonists (polyICLC or LPS) with or without IFA was both safe and immunogenic in melanoma patients. In contrast to the study hypothesis, peptide-specific CD8 T cell responses were more durable and of greater magnitude when IFA was included as an adjuvant, regardless of whether it was combined with polyICLC or LPS.

With best regards,

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

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

President's Message - July 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Summer is already here, and our attention is increasingly focused on the 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2019), scheduled for Nov. 6-10, 2019. Organizers and staff have already put more than a year’s worth of planning and work into this meeting, and the pace of preparations will increase substantially over the next few months.

This year our meeting will return to the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. The venue has hosted many successful SITC programs and this fall will be no different. The Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs connects all of us in the cancer immunotherapy field, including established and leading academic and government investigators in basic, translational and clinical research, early career investigators, patient care providers, industry professionals, regulatory colleagues and patient advocates.

This summer, SITC is launching its all new Career Connections initiative to make it even easier to connect with each other in ways that could foster new, long-lasting professional relationships. This program will connect job seekers and talent seekers in the cancer immunotherapy field with an enhanced year-round online platform and new opportunities for in-person connections at SITC 2019. Stay tuned for more details about the Career Connections initiative in the next few weeks and months.

We’ve observed a surge in quantity and quality of abstract submissions to the SITC Annual Meeting in recent years as our field has grown and matured. One of our goals for the Annual Meeting over the last several years has been to increase opportunities for oral abstract presentations, in order to better recognize and share the work and to give more opportunities for oral abstract presentations to early career investigators. This year we are nearly doubling the number of oral abstract presentations over the previous year. For those considering submitting an abstract to SITC 2019, don’t forget the deadline to submit a regular abstract or late-breaking abstract application is Aug. 1, 2019, at 5 p.m. PDT.

We continue to develop collaborations with other professional societies and organizations. We owe this spirit of collaboration to several of our past presidents. The newest collaboration at our upcoming Annual Meeting, this time with the American Society of Hematology, is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, from 1-5 p.m. EDT, and will be co-chaired by Katy Rezvani, MD, PhD (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center), and John M. Timmerman, MD (University of California, Los Angeles). This program will feature exciting presentations on the current state of research in hematologic malignancies.

We are continually adding new program, session and speaker information to the SITC 2019 itinerary. For the latest information regarding the SITC 2019 schedule and session information, please visit the SITC 2019 website today. Hotel rooms in National Harbor are limited and rapidly being reserved, so please don’t hesitate to confirm your registration today and secure your lodging in National Harbor.

Great scientific organizations are often associated with high quality journals publishing impactful, state of-the-art research. We are very proud to report that the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) increased its impact factor this year to 8.676. The impact factor places JITC in the top 3 percent of all fully open access oncology journals and ranks it in the top 8 percent of all journals published in the oncology and immunology categories. Congratulations to JITC Editor-in-Chief Pedro Romero, MD, the JITC Editorial Board, its vast collection of reviewers and SITC staff for hitting it out of the park again. Please consider submitting your best research to JITC or becoming a reviewer for the journal as we continue to grow its reputation and impact in oncology.

Finally, the 2019 SITC Election is fast approaching. Scheduled for July 10-24, 2019, SITC regular members and emeritus members will consider six candidates to fill three future openings for three-year terms as At-Large Directors on the SITC Board of Directors. Thank you to this year’s candidates who have offered their time and expertise to serve our Society.

Please visit the SITC website today to learn more about each of this year’s six candidates (or continue scrolling to view their names), including their biographies and positions statements. If you are not currently a SITC member, I hope you’ll consider joining SITC today.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President