Providing care and developing treatments that give cancer patients a sense of control over their disease is paramount at City of Hope. Research now being conducted at City of Hope by Peter P. Lee, MD, is taking that mission to its ultimate realization.
Dr. Lee is working to find the ways in which the patient’s own immune system can be empowered to defeat breast cancer through an approach that enlists the body’s natural defenses at every stage of fighting the disease. Typically, therapies rely on agents like vaccines to signal the body to attack the cancer in the early stages, while immune-boosting drugs focus on launching a final, frenzied attack of T cells on the cancerous cells. Dr. Lee’s work is centering on treatments that will cover all of the bases. “If you’re a sports fan,” he says, his research looks at “the balance between offense and defense.”
“A lot of our attention is focused on trying to slow down the offense by targeting the cancer cell,” he says. “There should also be benefit in enhancing the defense doing immunotherapy.”
Dr. Lee’s research into developing a multi-pronged attack against breast cancer resulted in the awarding of a $3.1 million Era of Hope grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. For Dr. Lee, who joined City of Hope in November 2011 as a professor and associate Chair of Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, this new grant builds on his existing research. Of his new work in his new position, Lee says, “I came to [City of Hope] because I want to translate discoveries to patients. With these resources and our combined approach, I’m confident we’ll have a much more effective treatment down the road. I look forward to working with many outstanding colleagues at City of Hope to develop these therapies.”