The Sentinel


Monday, October 21, 2019

JITC Letter from the Editor - October 2019

pedro-romero_1__1_.jpgDear JITC Readers,

I am pleased to share news of the launching of JITC’s very own Twitter handle (@JITCancer). Managed by JITC’s very own editors, this new platform will provide followers with access to JITC’s latest publications as well as cutting-edge news from throughout the fields of tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy. Furthermore, it will give authors, readers, and editors a place to connect more directly on a global level.

If you use Twitter, please take a moment to follow @JITCancer and explore its social content. The October edition of the JITC digest also contains several highlighted articles that may be of interest for you to share with your followers. In particular, these highlighted articles show how insight into the interplay between malignant cells and the immune system can unlock new therapeutic strategies and diagnostic tools.

Two papers reveal new insight into which patients may benefit from checkpoint inhibition. The first, “Closed system RT-qPCR as a potential companion diagnostic test for immunotherapy outcome in metastatic melanoma” by Swati Gupta et al., develops a profile based on mRNA expression signatures of four genes (CD274 (PD-L1), PDCDILG2 (PD-L2), CD8A, and IRF1) that correlates with clinical outcomes in melanoma patients treated with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. With further development, the approach they describe could offer a rapid-turnaround companion diagnostic, without standardization and threshold issues inherent in immunohistochemistry-based diagnostics.
The second article addresses the ongoing question of how T cell responses determine outcomes of checkpoint inhibition. Fehlings et al. shine some light on this issue by identifying a distinctive population of neoantigen-specific CD8+ effector-like T cells in PBMCs from patients with non-small cell lung cancer who responded to anti-PD-L1 treatment. Their findings are described in, “Late-differentiated effector neoantigen-specific CD8+ T cells are enriched in peripheral blood of non-small cell lung carcinoma patients responding to atezolizumab treatment.”

T cell engineering has emerged as an exciting new clinical frontier, with the marked success of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-based therapies. In, “A TIGIT-based chimeric co-stimulatory switch receptor improves T cell anti-tumor function,” Hoogi et al. deploy a novel T cell engineering strategy, generating a chimeric costimulatory switch receptor (CSR) that circumvents inhibitory signaling in the cancer milieu by fusing the extracellular ligand-binding domain of the co-inhibitory receptor TIGIT to the intracellular stimulatory domain of CD28. T cells co-transduced with both an antigen receptor and the CSR displayed enhanced cytokine production in vitro and prolonged survival in xenograft models of established melanoma.

The final paper highlighted in this month’s digest describes encouraging results from a phase 1 trial of a humanized anti-IL-8 monoclonal antibody in 15 patients with incurable metastatic or unresectable, locally advanced solid tumors. Bilusic et al. demonstrate that IL-8 blockade is safe and well-tolerated in, “Phase I trial of HuMax-IL8 (BMS-986253), an anti-IL-8 monoclonal antibody, in patients with metastatic or unresectable solid tumors.” What’s more, 11 out of 15 patients achieved stable disease, an encouraging result for ongoing studies investigating IL-8 blockade in combination with checkpoint inhibition.

With best regards,

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

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

President's Message - October 2019

Dear Colleagues,

In one month, the SITC family will gather once again, in National Harbor, Md., to hear the latest research in tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy as presented by many of the world’s foremost experts in the field. I am looking forward to welcoming you all to this reunion, our society’s 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2019). Regular abstract titles and author information were released on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and late-breaking abstract titles will be published on Nov. 1.

The complete SITC 2019 schedule continues to expand. There are so many reasons to attend; the latest advances in tumor immunobiology, state-of-the-art translational studies, results from early clinical trials, interactions with colleagues in government, academia, and industry, and of course, party with The CheckPoints. I’d like to highlight several recent additions to our annual event that will give you even more reasons to attend.

The first is a special session to focus on Lessons and Challenges from the Immunotherapy of Hematologic Malignancies: Informing the Next Generation of Cancer Immunotherapies. This is an exciting collaboration with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and will kick-off the 34th Annual Meeting proceedings on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, from 1-5 p.m. ET. We will also live stream the session to a global audience, inviting those to attend who cannot join us in National Harbor. I want to convey a special thank you to co-chairs, Katayoun Rezvani, MD, PhD (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center), and John M. Timmerman, MD (University of California, Los Angeles), who will lead the discussions during the session. To learn more about the session and to register for this live webcast opportunity, please click here.

Another highly anticipated program is this year’s Hot Topic Symposium on the final day of the SITC Annual Meeting, “Patient Impact on Immune Responses.” Chaired by Jennifer A. Ligibel, MD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) and Jennifer McQuade, MD, MS, MA, LAc (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center), this symposium will explore the many factors that can impact a patient’s anti-tumor immune response, including body mass index, gender, genetics, the microbiome and diet. A greater understanding of these factors will further personalize and optimize immunotherapy approaches for all cancer patients.

With what I believe reflects the excitement and promise of our field for cancer patients and our society’s efforts to advance the field and support our members, membership in SITC continues to grow. More clinical and laboratory investigators, clinicians, industry professionals and others are joining the SITC family than ever before! For this success we thank our members, prior leaders of SITC and the outstanding SITC staff. Welcome to the world’s leading organization dedicated to cancer immunotherapy; we’re happy to have you in the family!

Nonmembers who haven’t yet registered for SITC 2019 can become a SITC member very quickly and easily during the registration process. The deadline to receive the discounted registration rate to attend SITC 2019 is quickly approaching (Oct. 9, 2019), and the housing reservation deadline follows on Oct. 14, 2019. I appreciate the hard work of our organizers, faculty and staff as they complete their final preparations to ensure SITC 2019 is our society’s greatest conference yet.

Please be sure to visit the SITC booth during the Annual Meeting to join SITC or renew your membership. Those who secure their membership through the next calendar year while attending SITC 2019 will receive a special gift from the society.

I look forward to seeing you all in National Harbor, Md., next month.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President