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.

In this episode, you’ll hear him talk about what it was like to give CTL019 (Novartis/UPenn) to the first patient, and what researchers learnt from the experience.  He also talks about ongoing challenges: some patients after CAR T cell therapy go on to develop resistance and relapse.

Dr Mario Sznol Yale

Dr Mario Sznol

The second pioneer featured in this episode is Dr Mario Sznol from Yale-New Haven Hospital. Dr Sznol is a Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) at Yale.

He is one of the pioneers of checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

In this show, you’ll hear him talk about where the cancer immunotherapy field is, strategies for novel combinations and his vision for the future.

He talks about the need to understand the biology of why some people respond to cancer immunotherapy, but others don’t. Without a better understanding of the immuno-biology, we may miss the “signal” in combination trials if only a few people respond, and we can’t identify why they responded.

Additional Information:

CAR T cell therapy resistance:

Strategies to overcome CAR T cell therapy resistance. Biotech Strategy Blog. (subcription required)

Convergence of Acquired Mutations and Alternative Splicing of CD19 Enables Resistance to CART-19 Immunotherapy. Cancer Discovery. Published Online First October 29, 2015; doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-15-1020 (open access)

Podcast Music

The music in this podcast episode is by electric violinist and composer David Schulman from his album Quiet Life Motel.

Sponsorship

This podcast episode is sponsored by Genentech. We’re grateful for their support.

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