Beyond Ipilimumab: Promising New Immunotherapeutic Approaches

July 27, 2011

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, an associate professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology in the Abramson Cancer Center, is quoted in a Journal of the National Cancer Institute article examining the research landscape in cancer immunotherapy in the wake of the FDA's approval of ipilimumab, an agent to treat metastatic melanoma. Vonderheide recently published results of a pancreatic cancer trial involving another target for immune-stimulating drugs, using an agonistic anti-CD40 monoclonal antibody plus gemcitabine, which caused macrophages -- not T cells -- to kill tumor cells and the surrounding stroma. Macrophages in tumors usually promote tumor growth, but the anti-CD40 antibody, Vonderheide concluded, re-educates these macrophages to kill tumor and stromal cells. More such setbacks may occur in the field, but ipilimumab’s success has restored confidence to investigators studying the new agents. “The basic science has delivered; the translation has happened,” Vonderheide said. Read More