George Coukos MD, PhD

Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Celso Ramon Garcia Associate Professor, Director, Center for Research on the Early Detection and Cure of Ovarian Cancer

Research Focus: Immunotherapy & Cancer Vaccines

Cancer Type: Ovarian & Peritoneal Cancer

Award: Judah Folkman Angiogenesis Award for Cancer Gene Therapy

2006-2009 Research Grant:
This study will test the central hypothesis that T-body cell therapy is the only form of antioangiogenic gene therapy immediately translatable clinically that can deliver sustained vascular disrupting agent-type effect which is tumor-specific, self-amplifying in vivo and endowed with memory. The research will generate and test in vitro human lymphocytes engineered to recognize and attack tumor blood vessels, and conduct a phase I trial to test their safety and anti-tumor efficacy in patients with advanced recurrent ovarian and peritoneal cancers. Development and delivery of T cells directed against tumor vascular targets offers multiple theoretical advantages: it can be highly specific, efficient and sustained in time. In addition, it has the potential for significant antigen-induced amplification in vivo and is the only one that can provide long-term memory.

Current Research:

Dr. Coukos’ research has definitely grown to focus on ovarian cancer and identifying biomarkers of the cancer, early prevention methods, and novel treatments. Recently, Dr. Coukos has developed an ovarian vaccine treatment that uses the tumor of the patient and adoptive T Cell therapy to trigger an anti-tumor response. Of the six patients involved in the clinical trial with this vaccine, the anti-tumor response was generated in four. Although the responses were rather successful, the patients did go on to receive further treatment in the next stage of the trial using their own T Cells to further target their cancer. Early on in the therapy process, T Cells were removed from each of the patients, proliferated in a lab and then inserted back into the patients after they received their first stage of treatment where it was expected that they would target the tumor cells. Dr. Coukos and the other researchers working on this clinical trial are still determining whether or not this treatment will be successful on a large scale, but as of now the results do look very promising. In the future, Dr. Coukos aims to improve this vaccine and other types of T Cell therapy to better treat both ovarian and other cancers.

Return to Fellows List