Cancer immunotherapy has been very much focused on T cells of late, but perhaps we shouldn’t ignore the importance of the innate aspect of the immune system and how that might help generate cytolytic activity to help kill cancer cells.
Regular readers will know that we’ve been following the potential of Natural Killer (NK) cell therapy and targeting NK checkpoints.
Sculpture in Mainz
At the recent CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR international cancer immunotherapy conference in Mainz, we spoke with a scientist active in NK cancer immunotherapy research.
Dr Nicholas Huntington (@Dr_Nick_Bikes) leads a laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. He’s also co-founder of oNKo-innate, a startup company focused on developing innate immunotherapies.
After his presentation in Mainz, he kindly spoke to BSB about his NK cell research and its potential as a novel target for cancer immunotherapy.
Here’s a short excerpt from our discussion:
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In the sixth Preview relating to the annual meeting at #AACR17, we take a closer look at an immuno-oncology topic that we are likely to see and hear more about over the next couple of years.
Indeed, I’ve followed some cancer conferences where it wasn’t even mentioned, much to my surprise. It should be, it’s likely going to be both needed and receive a lot of attention over the next few years.
What we need is a bridge for greater success. What does that look like though and how do we go about achieving it?
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Eric Vivier, DVM PhD (@EricVivier1) is a leading French immunologist whose research has focused on understanding the innate immune system, and in particular, the role natural killer (NK) cells and innate lymphoid cells (ILC) play.
He is Director of the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (CIML) and a Professor of Immunology at Aix-Marseille University.
In addition to his academic work, he also co-founded the biotech company Innate Pharma back in 1999. Through the company, he is actively involved in the translation of basic research into new cancer immunotherapy treatments.
New clinical data is eagerly expected for one of these, a first-in-class monoclonal antibody against KIR (lirilumab). It is in phase 2 clinical trials with Innate Pharma and Bristol Myers Squibb.
At the recent scientific meeting to celebrate 40 years of CIML (#CIML40), Professor Vivier kindly spoke to BSB about his research into innate immunity and the Marseille Immunopôle, for which he is also a co-founder.
It is an immunology cluster that brings together academic/clinical research with innovative biotech companies looking to bring new drugs and diagnostics to market.
This is the second post in our mini-series from the Marseille Immunopôle and CIML40. It also sets the scene for forthcoming posts on targeting the innate immune system, something you can expect to hear a lot more about in cancer immunotherapy.
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One of the (many) highlights for me at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) was a “Meet the Expert” session presented by Professor George Coukos.
Prof George Coukos AACR 2016
Professor Coukos is Director of Oncology at the University Hospital of Lausanne and Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Switzerland.
Ovarian cancer is becoming a fascinating battleground for cancer immunotherapy, with multiple challenges that must be overcome before we see improvements in outcomes, especially for women advanced disease.
The interview with Prof Coukos is a follow-on to the one we did on advanced ovarian cancer and checkpoint blockade at ECCO 2015 in Vienna with Dr Nora Disis (Link).
If you missed it, you can still listen to highlights in Episode 7 of the Novel Targets Podcast (Link).
After his AACR presentation, Prof Coukos kindly spoke with BSB and in a wide ranging discussion, highlighted some of the innovative clinical trial strategies he is working on to move the cancer immunotherapy field forward in ovarian cancer.
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