Glenn Dranoff MD

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Professor, Leader, Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Program

Research Focus: Immunotherapy

Cancer Type: Leukemia

Award: Clinical Investigator

Although vaccines are a promising approach to increase immune responses and potentially improve patient survival, it has been demonstrated in early research that cancer vaccines also appear to have a built-in circuit that limits their potency. An important component of this circuit is a protein called milk fat globule-E8 (MFG-E8). In mouse models, a blockade of this protein function results in a stronger vaccine response and increased tumor destruction. On-going studies of blood samples from humans show similar results. The anti-MFG-E8 approach involves taking a patient’s own tumors and mixing these with engineered cell lines for re-introduction to the immune system. Dr. Dranoff is manufacturing clinical grade cellular products that will allow testing of this novel vaccination strategy in cancer patients. The Institute has a very active vaccine development program which has previously been tested in roughly 200 patients, but this study is a first and Dr. Dranoff hopes that this is going to be a significant improvement to the current roster of cancer vaccines. By combining immune stimulation with a specific hormone [GM-CSF] and with the simultaneous blockade of the milk fat globule-E8, the research will further test the hypothesis that anti-tumor immunity and tumor destruction will be increased in patients with many different forms of cancer. Although initially tested as a stand-alone treatment, over a longer time-frame the application may also be used in combination with other forms of cancer treatment for even better results.

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