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Insights Into Cancer – February 9, 2016

Treating Cancer with the Immune System

Presented by Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD

About the Lecture

Cancer immunotherapy is rapidly becoming a forth pillar of cancer therapy, adding to the value of the current pillars which are surgery, radiation therapy and chemical therapy for cancer. Immunotherapy is based on directing the body’s defense system to specifically attack the cancer. It had been tried for 100 years with very little success. We now know that part of the problem was that the approaches were mostly based on attempting to turn on the immune system against the cancer, but instead what was needed was to release its breaks. The immune system has multiple checks and balances to avoid attacking normal organs, and the cancer hides behind these mechanisms. By releasing its breaks (called immune checkpoints) we can now redirect the immune system to fight cancer. When done with specific antibodies that block a checkpoint called PD-1, then long lasting responses are being seen in patients with advanced melanoma, with lung, kidney, bladder cancers, and with Hodgkin’s disease, among other cancers. These agents, alone or in combination with other immune modulating approaches, are now in clinical testing for multiple cancers. Dr. Ribas will discuss the basis of cancer immunotherapy and the effects it is having in the treatment of patients with cancer.

About the Speaker

Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD is a Professor of Medicine, Professor of Surgery, and Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He is the Director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), Vice-President of the Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) and the Chair of the Melanoma Committee at SWOG. He trained at the University of Barcelona, Spain, with postdoctoral research and clinical fellowship at UCLA. Dr. Ribas is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI). He has published over 200 manuscripts on laboratory and clinical research in malignant melanoma. As a physician-scientist, Dr. Ribas has a NIH and California State-funded laboratory where he conducts research focusing on adoptive cell transfer with T cell receptor (TCR) engineered lymphocytes, anti-CTLA4 antibodies, anti-PD-1 antibodies, BRAF and MEK-targeted therapies.

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