Welcome back to Season 3!

In this episode we’re tackling one of the hottest topics in cancer research, why do cancer immunotherapies work in some people, but not in others? Why do they stop working? If we want to obtain long durable responses, then we have to understand and overcome resistance. Some of the meaty topics covered on this episode include:

  • Initial resistance
  • Acquired resistance
  • Immune escape
  • How we may be able to turn non-responders into responders
  • Overcoming immuno-suppression within the tumor microenvironment.

Checkpoint inhibitors do not work well in cancers where there is no underlying immune response. One example of such a non-inflamed tumor is prostate cancer.

So a key question is how do we convert a non-inflamed tumor (where few T Cells present) into an inflamed one (T cells are plentiful and active)? 

In this latest episode, using prostate cancer as an example, Dr James Gulley from the National Cancer Institute (pictured below at ASCO 2015) talks about how therapeutic cancer vaccines may achieve this effect.

Dr James Gulley NCI

Giving a cancer vaccine first could make checkpoint inhibitors more effective.