Proactive Cancer Immunotherapies for Initial and Recurrent Disease

Organization: Institute for Systems Biology
Principal Investigator: James Heath

For in-remission cancer patients, recurrent disease is often metastatic with few viable treatments. A major challenge is that recurrent cancer is often not detected until it is metastatic, and surgical resection of metastatic disease is typically not practical. However, early signatures of recurrent disease can be detected in the blood. Furthermore, a genetic analysis of the patient’s primary tumor can inform the design of a personalized cancer vaccine that is engineered to specifically activate tumor-killing T cell populations. Thus, the combination of early detection of recurrent disease (prior to the emergence of clinical symptoms) through a deep molecular phenotyping of the patient, coupled with proactive vaccine strategies, provides the opportunity to significantly reduce the chance of disease recurrence. The technical challenges associated with taking advantage of this opportunity are daunting, but we have assembled a team of world leading investigators from across the disciplines of computer science, bioengineering, cancer biology, and clinical cancer care to achieve this goal. This proposed program initially formalizes early detection strategies through deep characterizations of patients with ovarian, breast, and colorectal cancers, prior to selecting a set of cancer patients for clinical trial designed to intercept recurrent disease through the design and administration of personalized, tumor-specific vaccines.

Kiana McKenna