A pioneer is someone who helps develop something new and prepares the way for others to follow.

We want to harness our immune system to fight and cure cancer. In this episode you’ll hear from two (of the many) pioneers in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Dr Stephan Grupp CHOP

Dr Stephan Grupp (pictured above) from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is leading the way in developing CAR T cell therapy for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Dr Grupp is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.

This episode features excerpts from an interview with Dr Holbrook Kohrt who was leading the way in researching the potential of immune agonists targeting 4-1BB (CD137). It is with great sadness that we must report that since this episode aired, Holbrook Kohrt is no longer with us. He died, aged 38, on February 24, 2016.

Dr Holbrook Kohrt Stanford

In-Memorium Holbrook Kohrt 

This episode features interviews with two Titans in the field of adoptive cell therapy: Dr Carl June from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Dr Steven Rosenberg from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Adoptive cellular therapy is where you take T lymphocytes – T cells, “the immune warriors in the body” as you’ll Dr Rosenberg describe them, out of a patient, manipulate them in some way in the laboratory, then expand them in terms of numbers and give them back to the patient.

Dr Carl June UPenn

Dr Carl June talks about one way of manipulating a T lymphocyte through the insertion of a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) to create a CAR modified T cell.

The promise of cancer immunotherapy and in particular checkpoint inhibitors that target the PD1 PDL1 signaling pathway is the topic of this episode.

We hear about the latest data presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia.

Interviews with Dr Julie Brahmer (Johns Hopkins), Dr Leisha Emens (Johns Hopkins) and Dr Ira Mellman (Genentech) take us on a journey that highlights some of the challenges and opportunities.

Dr Leisha Emens Johns Hopkins

We also hear from Dr Suzanne Topalian (Johns Hopkins), Dr Antoni Ribas (UCLA) and Dr Pasi Jänne (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute).