SU2C Scientific Research Teams
SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell (CAR T) Translational Research Team
Carl June, MD
Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UPenn
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E. John Wherry, PhD
Director of the Institute for Immunology and a Professor of Microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, UPenn
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Shelley L. Berger, PhD
Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and Daniel S. Och University Professor
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“We will investigate CAR T cell therapy for pancreatic cancer in combination with analysis of the epigenetics of patients who respond to the treatment as well as those who fail to respond, with the goal of finding ways to increase the response rate and explore new therapies against this terrible disease.” Carl H. June, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Team Leader
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy is a breakthrough that has proven to be highly effective for a variety of B cell malignancies, including acute lymphocytic leukemia, diffuse large B cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. As CAR T cell therapy is extended from hematologic malignancies to the realm of solid tumors, such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), the most common form of pancreatic cancer, a fundamental understanding of disease resistance mechanisms will be paramount.
The Research Team’s long-term goal is to understand the factors that lead to resistance or response in patients treated with various forms of cancer immunotherapy. In particular, the goals are to investigate patient epigenetic variation that influences the response to immunotherapy and to use epigenetic therapeutics alone or in combination with immunotherapy to inhibit tumor progression as well as to overcome resistance to immunotherapy.
The team will identify genetic and epigenetic features in CAR T cells and/or cancer cells that will help predict which patients will respond to the immunotherapy, with an eventual goal of initiating clinical trials that employ a combination of approaches to therapy. This will create strong synergy for a unified, multidimensional project aimed at generating more effective CAR T cells therapy for pancreatic cancer patients, with potential broad implications for immunotherapy directed toward other cancers.