Dr Mario Sznol at SITC 2015 Patient Forum
“Novel Immunotherapies and Combinations” was the title of the talk by Dr Mario Sznol (Yale) at the recent Immunotherapy Patient Forum co-hosted by Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Organization (GRACE) and the Melanoma Research Alliance at the 2015 SITC annual meeting.
At the forum, Dr Sznol also led a breakout session, where he reviewed what is melanoma, the treatment of primary melanoma and management of advanced disease, as well as answering questions from the patients and patient advocates.
Often at medical meetings you hear the results of a clinical trial that is but one piece of the jigsaw, so it was interesting to hear a more comprehensive overview of the disease.
Dr Sznol kindly spoke with BSB about his vision for the future of cancer immunotherapies. This post includes excerpts from the interview along with additional commentary.
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One thing has become very clear in the oncology space over the last year… checkpoint inhibitors are insufficient on their own for the vast majority of tumour types and patients that they have been explored in to date. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is lack of T cells in the tumour, which enable an effective immune response to be mounted.
This begs the question – how can we address that issue and manipulate the tumour microenvironment in our favour, thereby making subsequent checkpoint blockade more effective?
There are a number of different ways to do this.
In the past, we’ve discussed several methods including innate immunotherapies such as Aduro’s STING or Biothera’s immunotherapeutic, Imprime PGG. Other approaches include vaccines, which we have discussed in detail, t-cell receptors (TCR) or even monoclonal antibodies, such as AdaptImmune’s approach with their ImmTac technology.
There are other novel strategies currently being investigated by numerous companies too.
In this article – and also the second part of the latest miniseries – which will post tomorrow, we straddle our final reviews of interesting data from the European Cancer Conference (ECC) in Vienna with the upcoming one from the Society of Immunotherapy for Cancer (SITC) being held in National Harbor, Maryland.
Today’s post explores the concept of immunocytokines, engineered antibodies that are designed to boost the immune system, so that subsequent therapies will be more effective.
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