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Part 5: Targeting Cancer Pathways: Understanding Immune Checkpoints

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Part 5: Targeting Cancer Pathways: Understanding Immune Checkpoints

Recorded 19 January 2016



This webinar is the fifth in a series focusing on the cancer pathways that support tumor development, the emerging research in identifying and targeting these pathways, and innovations in the development of increasingly effective cancer therapy options. Recent advances in our understanding of cancer have revealed that the disease cannot be understood through simple analysis of genetic mutations within cancerous cells. Instead, tumors should be considered as complex tissues in which the cancer cells communicate directly and indirectly with the surrounding cellular microenvironment and evolve traits that promote their own survival. In this webinar, we will explore how tumors exploit immune modulatory mechanisms to generate and thrive in their own immunosuppressive microenvironment. Further, we will examine how these mechanisms can be targeted to develop better therapeutic options.

During the webinar, the speakers will:

  • Provide a historical overview of immune checkpoint research and examine the effect of mutational load on clinical response
  • Explain how PD-1 immunotherapy stops certain cancers from turning off the anticancer immune response
  • Discuss general therapeutic approaches to activating the immune system to treat cancer.

This Webinar will last for approximately 60 Minutes

You can also view Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series.

To learn more about products or technologies related to this webinar, go to:  www.cellsignal.com

Speaker bios

James P. Allison, Ph.D.

MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX

Dr. Allison obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, he joined the faculty of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Science Park. He then held positions at the University of California, Berkeley and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City before moving to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2012, where he is currently professor of immunology, chair of the Department of Immunology, and executive director of the Immunotherapy Platform. Dr. Allison has made many fundamental discoveries in immunology, including defining the structure of the T-cell antigen receptor and identifying the function of the checkpoint molecule CTLA-4, which inhibits activated T cells. He was the first to propose that immune checkpoint blockade might be a powerful strategy for therapy of many cancer types and conducted preclinical experiments showing its potential. His development of immune checkpoint blockade transformed cancer therapy and has been responsible for saving the lives of thousands of cancer patients. Dr. Allison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He has received numerous national and international awards, including the Lasker DeBakey-Award for Clinical Medical Research in 2015, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Immunologists, the Lloyd J. Old Award from the American Association for Cancer Research and the Cancer Research Institute, the Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunology, and the Economist magazine’s Innovations Award for Bioscience, and the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society, among others.

Gordon J. Freeman, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Dr. Freeman works in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He earned his B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology and his Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from Harvard University. His research has identified the major pathways that control the immune response by inhibiting T-cell activation (PD-1/PD-L1 and B7-2/CTLA-4) or stimulating T-cell activation (B7-2/CD28). In 2000, Dr. Freeman discovered the PD-L1 and PD-L2 proteins and showed they were ligands for PD-1, thus defining the PD-1 pathway and the drug target: to block the PD-1–ligand interaction. He showed that the function of PD-1 was to inhibit immune responses and that blockade enhanced immune responses. He further showed that PD-L1 is highly expressed on many solid tumors such as breast and lung, as well as some hematologic malignancies, and allows these tumors to resist immune attack. He received the 2014 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology and the 2017 Warren Alpert Foundation award for this work, which led to development of the PD-1 pathway blockade for cancer immunotherapy.

Philip J. Gotwals, Ph.D.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Cambridge, MA

Dr. Gotwals is currently executive director of exploratory immuno-oncology at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, and has been instrumental in building the company’s immuno-oncology strategic research area, including Novartis’ collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania to develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy. Dr. Gotwals has more than 20 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, leading internal and collaborative R&D programs from drug discovery to new drug application filing and participation in the licensing of product candidates. He was formerly vice president of project management at Altus Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for all product development project management activities. Prior to his engagement at Altus, he was senior director of program and alliance management at Biogen, where he oversaw leadership of internal and allied early product development teams in the autoimmune, neurology, and oncology therapeutic areas. Dr. Gotwals holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley, completed postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has published extensively in the area of integrin biology.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently Dr. Sanders is the Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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