Experimental Therapeutics

The Laboratory of Vaccine Research (LVR) was originally formed by  Don J. Diamond, Ph.D. in 2000 to address priorities in vaccine research that would potentially impact patient outcomes at the City of Hope (COH) and other cancer centers worldwide.  The LVR later evolved into the Division of Translational Vaccine Research (TVR) in 2008, which has, since then, focused on the clinical translation of vaccine and therapeutic strategies to combat herpes viral infections, hematologic malignancies, and solid tumors. Our comprehensive program has now developed molecular vaccines and therapies that incorporate various technologies such as peptides and viral or bacterial vectors to directly elicit, or encode antigens that elicit, viral- or cancer-specific immune responses. Currently, the TVR has produced several agents that have advanced beyond pre-clinical testing into Phase I and II trials. The mission of the TVR is to continue progress in the development and testing of treatments with clinical benefit for cancer patients. In 2014, the TVR was transformed into the Department of Experimental Therapeutics (ET).  The mission of the ET department will encompass the work of the TVR and broaden its scope to include more basic studies in basic and tumor immunology.

Human Cytomegalovirus
Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a therapy for which COH is a world leader and is effective for a range of life-threatening hematologic malignancies. However, one of the most difficult-to-treat complications can occur during the first 100 days post-HCT, which is infection with the highly prevalent beta-herpes virus known as human cytomegalovirus (HCMV).   To improve outcomes for HCT recipients, the ET aims to substitute toxic antivirals with a vaccine that induces long-lasting, memory immune responses to HCMV, since antivirals are unable to generate adaptive immunity capable of preventing HCMV infection and disease.  Learn more.


Advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and can be attributed to deficiencies in early detection methods and effective therapies. Overexpression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in PDAC plays a major role in accelerating disease progression by suppressing antitumor immunity. shIDO-ST is a novel Salmonella typhimirium (ST)-based therapy that expresses a small hairpin (sh) RNA to specifically silence tumor-derived IDO with decreased toxicity. Using bioluminescent forms of cell lines derived from pancreatic tumors, the TVR is able to employ advanced imaging techniques to follow therapeutic strategies in which Salmonella therapy is combined with proprietary adjuvant causing remarkable complete rejection of transplantable tumors.  Learn more.

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