The Sentinel


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

JITC Letter from the Editor - June 2020

Dear JITC Readers,

Welcome to the latest edition of the JITC digest. As we move into the first months of the summer, cancer research programs are cautiously beginning to re-open in cities around the world while at the same time the streets are full of thousands of people protesting against racial injustice. In these tumultuous times, JITC is proud to add to the voices of all those across the globe in strong support of justice and equality, and against racism of any kind. 

We hope that all our JITC readers are staying safe as shelter in place orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic slowly lift and we reaffirm our commitment to publishing the best of immunotherapy research through these tumultuous and uncharted times. 

In this issue we are excited to share an excellent review, two perspectives from SITC and four original research articles, two of which describe important new biomarker approaches for predicting and monitoring therapeutic response and two of which develop strategies to enhance anti-tumor immunity. 

John P Lynes and colleagues provide a timely update on strategies for the identification of predictive immunotherapy biomarkers in the highly heterogeneous central nervous system malignancy glioblastoma along with an overview of challenges for the field in central nervous system disease in, "Biomarkers for immunotherapy for treatment of glioblastoma."

In, "Endogenous TLR2 ligand embedded in the catalytic region of human cysteinyl-tRNA synthetase 1," Seongmin Cho et al. identify a unique TLR agonist embedded within the catalytic region of a human tRNA synthetase enzyme that significantly improved survival when administered with checkpoint inhibitors in mouse models without causing significant systemic toxicity. 

Victor H Engelhard and colleagues developed, performed pre-clinical characterization and evaluated safety and immunogenicity of a novel immunotherapeutic vaccine comprising HLA-restricted phosphorylated peptides in, "MHC-restricted phosphopeptide antigens: preclinical validation and first-in-humans clinical trial in participants with high-risk melanoma." 

On the biomarkers side, Thomas LaSalle and colleagues used a novel PET agent that non-invasively quantifies granzyme B release to measure immune cell activation in tumors during checkpoint inhibitor therapies. Additionally, in an impressive pan-tumor analysis, Jessica Roelands et al. demonstrate that cancer-specific oncogenic gene expression programs may modulate the predictive power of favorable intratumoral immune responses. Don't miss the papers, "Granzyme B PET imaging of immune-mediated tumor killing as a tool for understanding immunotherapy response" and "Oncogenic states dictate the prognostic and predictive connotations of intratumoral immune response." 

JITC also is proud to publish two outstanding papers from SITC, "The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer perspective on regulation of interleukin-6 signaling in COVID-19-related systemic inflammatory response" by Fernanda I Arnaldez et al. and "The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer statement on best practices for multiplex immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence (IF) staining and validation" by Janis M Taube and colleagues. The former provides an overview of immune-modulatory therapies that may be of use for COVID-19 and the latter helps set standards to ensure outputs are robust and comparable across laboratories and platforms. 

Finally, it is with a heavy heart that I share the passing of our colleague Beatrix Kotlan. Among her many amazing contributions to the immunotherapy field, Beatrix was a founding Associate Editor who served six years on the JITC editorial board. She was also a dedicated, enthusiastic reviewer and a tireless advocate for lower-income countries to have access to the tools and knowledge necessary to advance the field. Our thoughts are with her family.

Best regards,

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

To view the entire June 2020 JITC Digest, please click here

Monday, June 1, 2020

President's Message - June 2020

Dear Colleagues,

While the global coronavirus pandemic has held our attention since March, this edition of the President’s Message will focus on the greater mission that brings us all together.

June is Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month™, and so, first and most important, I would like to thank our members for the countless ways you contribute to advancing and delivery of cancer immunotherapy. Originally founded in 1984 as the Society for Biological Therapy by 40 charter members, SITC has proudly grown to more than 3,000 members representing 48 countries around the globe. Such growth could not have been possible if it were not for the sound, strategic leadership of my predecessors, who maintained their strong belief in this field despite substantial skepticism in other parts of the scientific community and the limited success of earlier therapies. Therefore, with the opportunity presented by Cancer Immunotherapy Month™, I would like to acknowledge all of SITC’s Past Presidents for their guidance, expertise and their continued contributions to our society.

This month, SITC will call attention to the many ways our society, through the contributions and dedication of its members, are positively affecting the field of cancer immunotherapy. On our website and social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, SITC will feature a different program, resource or SITC initiative each day of the month. Further, we will celebrate and honor the scientists, clinicians and many others in the field by wearing white on Friday, June 12. You can download SITC’s 2020 “Why I Wear White” flyer, take a selfie with a decorated flyer, and post it to social media. And don’t forget to tag SITC!

SITC staff and meeting organizers continue preparing for our society’s upcoming 35th Anniversary Annual Meeting (Nov. 10–15 in National Harbor, Md.). We look forward to seeing all of you there and I encourage you to register for what will be another outstanding meeting. We are monitoring world events closely and continue to place the safety of our members as our top priority. Please also note that enduring materials from the 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2019) are now available by open access to the general public. To access these and numerous other quality resources published from past SITC meetings, please visit the SITC Resource Library.

Finally, I want to bring to your attention again the remarkable progress and success of the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC), our society’s official open access journal. JITC received its first impact factor just two years ago, ranking it as one of the top cancer immunotherapy journals, and is currently receiving a record number of submissions. JITC will now also offer continuing medical education (CME) credits for its reviewers. Continue reading this month’s edition of the Immune Monitor to learn more about this valuable new feature from JITC.

I wish you all a happy and safe beginning to summer.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President