Novel Targets Podcast

Bringing to Life the Science around Innovative New Drugs, Gene and Cell Therapies

Illustration: Niklas Elmehed. Copyright © Nobel Media AB 2018

The award of the 2018 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine to Dr Jim Allison and Dr Tasuku Honjo is a defining moment for cancer research that we want to recognize.

You’ll hear from Dr Allison on the very day he heard the announcement, as well as take a closer look at what it takes to be a great scientist and the limitations on how many people the Nobel Prize can recognize in a given year.

If you want to increase your chance of winning, 1993 laureate Sir Richard Roberts FRS takes us through his “Ten Simple Rules to Win a Nobel Prize.”

In this episode we’re continuing our look at the innate immune system by considering the potential of Natural Killer or NK cells for cancer immunotherapy:

Why do NK cells matter, what do they see, and how can then be targeted?

Just like with T cells, it turns out there are a number of different therapeutic approaches that can be used for NK cells, ranging from allogeneic cell therapies and CAR NK cells to BiKEs, TriKEs, as well as monoclonal antibodies and small molecules that target NK checkpoints.

We’ve covered quite a lot on the science, biology and even various therapeutics relating to the adaptive immune system, which involves lymphocytes such as T cells and B cells, but what about the innate immune system?

Historical Background

In 1891 a surgeon named William Cooley wrote the first case report of what happens when you inject people who have inoperable cancer with bacterial toxins (history buffs who want to read more should click the following open access link to download one of his historical papers).

In this latest episode, we tackle the family of protein molecules called cytokines that can have a yin and yang effect on the tumour microenvironment in many solid tumours.

Computer Graphic of TGFβ   Credit: Dr Michael Sporn, NCI

What are they and can we manipulate them and modulate their signal so as to tip things in a more positive direction in people with cancer?

Examples of cytokines include the interleukin (IL) family, interferon gamma (IFN𝛄), and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ).

Welcome back to Season 4! This episode of Novel Targets was recorded at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Chicago. This time around, we’re talking about cancer immunotherapy clinical practice, pitfalls in trial design/interpretation, emerging biomarkers, and possibilities for future cures in some patients.

Professor Tom Powles

Tom Powles (Barts Cancer Centre) is a regular on the podcast. He previously featured in Episode 7 , where he talked about some of his experience with the checkpoint inhibitor, atezolizumab, in bladder cancer.