Molecular immunotherapy, a collaboration between Drs. Andrew Raubitschek and Stephen J. Forman, supports and enhances the other cancer immunotherapy programs through the genetic engineering of biological products. In particular, this area of research is pioneering the science of creating “designer” proteins, which fuse two types of molecules — one that seeks out the tumor and one that triggers the immune system to attack the cancer.
These pharmaceutical-grade proteins are currently being used for clinical trials at City of Hope, including a study utilizing an antibody directed against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as at collaborating institutions throughout the nation. Their potential uses range from boosting patients’ immune response to controlling the proliferation of engineered, exogenously administered cells.
Two additional immunofusions are being evaluated for patient studies; one directed against melanoma/neuroblastoma and the other directed against a common antigen in breast, lung, colon and prostate cancer. In addition, a group of investigators has been exploring the concept of immunizing patients with DNA to elicit an immune response against an altered protein that is associated with the malignant transformation of normal cells.