The Sentinel


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

JITC Letter from the Editor - August 2019

pedro-romero_1__1_.jpgDear JITC Readers,

In the August edition of the JITC Digest, I would like to highlight the following articles. First, “The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer consensus statement on immunotherapy for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC),” by Ezra E.W. Cohen et al. details the first new FDA approvals for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) since 2006, including the most recent 2019 approval of pembrolizumab as first-line treatment for patients with metastatic or unresectable, recurrent HNSCC in combination with chemotherapy for all patients or as monotherapy for patients with HNSCC whose tumors express PD-L1. These consensus guidelines serve as a foundation to assist clinicians’ understanding of the role of immunotherapies in this disease setting, and to standardize utilization across the field for patient benefit.

Furthermore, the article, “T cells expressing NKG2D chimeric antigen receptors efficiently eliminate glioblastoma and cancer stem cells” by Dong Yang et al. confirms the high expression of NKG2DLs in human glioblastoma cell lines, CSCs, and tumor samples and provides evidence that NKG2D CAR T cells effectively target glioblastoma cells and CSCs in an NKG2D-dependent manner, thus reporting on an encouraging therapeutic approach for glioblastoma patients.

Next, the research article entitled “Tumor-released autophagosomes induces CD4+ T cell-mediated immunosuppression via a TLR2–IL-6 cascade,” by Yong-Qiang Chen et al. reveals novel cellular and molecular mechanisms of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles in regulating CD4+ effector T cell function and pinpoints tumor cell-released autophagosomes (TRAPs) as a therapeutic target for cancer immunotherapy, specifically reporting HSP90-alpha on the surface of TRAPs as a novel target.

“Ovarian cancer stem cells and macrophages reciprocally interact through the WNT pathway to promote pro-tumoral and malignant phenotypes in 3D engineered microenvironments,” by Shreya Raghavan et al. details the hanging drop spheroid model developed to investigate pro-tumoral macrophage activation in response to CSCs and the role of WNT pathways in CSC-macrophage interactions. Such insight could provide new targets for reducing CSC-burden in ovarian cancer.

“HERA-GITRL activates T cells and promotes anti-tumor efficacy independent of Fc-gamma-R-binding functionality,” by David M. Richards et al. describes the development of a novel agonistic HERA molecule targeting GITR for which the underlying HERA-GITRL structure overcomes significant limitations of bivalent antibody-based approaches by mimicking the natural trimeric ligand, and thus inducing optimal trimeric assembly of the GITR receptors.

Finally, the clinical study, “First-in-human phase 1 study of IT1208, a defucosylated humanized anti-CD4 depleting antibody, in patients with advanced solid tumors,” by Kohei Shitara et al. reports on single agent IT1208, a humanized anti-CD4 immunoglobulin G1 mAb, which is shown to successfully deplete CD4+ T cells with a manageable safety profile and encouraging preliminary efficacy signals, warranting further investigations, possibly in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

With best regards,

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

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

President's Message - August 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Since its creation in 1984, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) has steadfastly pursued its goals to advance the science and application of tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and other authorities around the world, have approved use of numerous immunotherapy treatments in recent years for a variety of cancers, education of the patient care team has become one of the most critical initiatives of our society.

To achieve its educational goals, SITC and its members have developed state-of-the-art programs, both online and in-person. An example of online resources is the SITC library of Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines. The most recent publication in this series contains clinical treatment recommendations for clinicians administering immunotherapy for patients with HNSCC and is published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) – our open access, peer-reviewed online journal. Congratulations to the SITC Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines Head and Neck Subcommittee for authoring this important consensus statement.

For in-person education, the Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy™ (ACI) regional programs have been particularly effective and popular. Approaching its seventh year, ACIs are held in 15 communities around North America each year, and include national and local experts on cancer immunotherapy across the disease spectrum. SITC will again offer the program free of charge for healthcare professionals in the clinical setting, students and patient advocates ACI programs provide:

  • In-depth information on treating patients with FDA-approved immunotherapies
  • Analysis and interpretation of new clinical data supporting the use of checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T therapies, cytokines, oncolytic viruses and vaccines
  • Education enabling clinicians and other health care personnel to more effectively identify and manage immune-related adverse events
  • Strategies to overcome operational and reimbursement barriers to incorporating immunotherapy into practice

I’ve served as an ACI faculty member myself, and seen first-hand SITC’s ability to draw from a vast network of scientific and clinical experts to provide an outstanding educational program. Attendees acquire a better understanding of current practices and known challenges to administering cancer immunotherapy treatments. All ACIs are CME-, CNE-, CPE- and MOC-certified, assisting clinicians in providing state of the art care to their patients.

Beginning in September and through March 2020, SITC will bring its ACI program to 15 cities around North America. Registration is currently open for Cleveland (Sept. 5), Chicago (Sept. 28), Boston (Oct. 10), Buffalo, N.Y. (Oct. 26) and Nashville, Tenn. (Dec. 4). Remaining cities that will host an ACI in the coming year include: Philadelphia; San Francisco; Birmingham, Ala.; Charlotte, N.C.; San Diego; Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Fla.; Tucson, Ariz.; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and San Antonio. Stay tuned to the SITC website for dates and registration information on upcoming ACIs.

Finally, I’d like to share a quick reminder that we are nearly a month out from SITC’s upcoming interim workshops on cancer immune responsiveness (Sept. 4-5) and adoptive cellular therapies (Sept. 5-6) in Houston. The deadline to save money on housing is Wednesday, Aug. 14, with online registration closing Wednesday, Aug. 28, so don’t hesitate in securing your spot for these engaging scientific and clinical workshops. I hope to see you in Texas!


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President