Newswise — April 7, 2014, San Diego, Calif. – Ludwig researchers Irving Weissman and Jedd Wolchok will each give a talk during today’s plenary session of the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, starting at 8:45 am PT. The session, dedicated to one of the most promising and rapidly advancing areas of cancer research and therapy, is titled Targeted Immunotherapy: Mobilizing the Immune System against Cancer.
Weissman, who directs the Ludwig Center at Stanford, will speak about his team’s characterization of a cell-surface protein that is found on almost every major kind of cancer cell and their work describing its role in protecting malignant tissue. They have shown that cancer cells use this protein, CD47, to transmit a “don’t eat me” signal to patrolling immune cells known as macrophages, which would otherwise kill and ingest them to initiate a devastating immune attack on tumors.
His laboratory has developed antibodies that bind CD47, silence its inhibitory signal and promote the swift destruction of cancers in animal models. He and his colleagues are now preparing to test their antibody in clinical trials as a potential immunotherapy.
Weissman’s talk will cover his investigation of CD47, what it has revealed about the role of macrophages in the immune response to cancer and what preclinical studies suggest about the therapeutic potential of anti-CD47 antibodies.
Jedd Wolchok, who directs Ludwig’s Collaborative Laboratory at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), will speak about the design and assessment of novel immunotherapies. His talk will cover the design, preclinical assessment and clinical evaluation of therapies that reverse the inhibition of anti-cancer immune responses, and those that intensify such responses—and the combined use of such therapies.
Regarded a leader in the field of immunotherapy, Wolchok was instrumental to the development of the checkpoint blockade antibody ipilimumab, which induces potent and durable responses in many patients with a variety of cancers. He also showed last year that its use in combination with nivolumab—an investigational antibody that prevents the inhibition of cytotoxic T cells of the immune system by cancer cells—elicited potent and lasting responses in many patients with advanced melanoma. He will, further, give another lecture on immunotherapy on Wednesday, when he receives the AACR Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award for his contributions to the field.
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About Ludwig Cancer Research
Ludwig Cancer Research is an international collaborative network of acclaimed scientists with a 40-year legacy of pioneering cancer discoveries. Ludwig combines basic research with the ability to translate its discoveries and conduct clinical trials to accelerate the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies. Since 1971, Ludwig has invested $2.5 billion in life-changing cancer research through the not-for-profit Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers.