Cancer Immunotherapeutics

Scientists in City of Hope’s Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program  are focused on finding new ways to use an old weapon to treat cancer. The weapon is the body’s own immune system. Immunotherapy researchers concentrate on discovering new methods of using the immune system to attack tumor cells.
City of Hope is proud of the Program’s scientific and clinical advancements. Led by Peter P. Lee, M.D., and Hua Yu, Ph.D., immunotherapeutics researchers are responsible for the discovery and application to clinical practice of new, more successful and less toxic cancer therapies.
Investigators with expertise in the specialized areas of cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology focus on the Program’s long-term goal;
  • to acquire new insights about interaction between the immune system and cancer cells, in order 
  • to create innovative treatment approaches which, through rigorous process development, will allow them 
  • to develop new therapies of sufficient quality to be used in human clinical trials.  
The Program’s scientists work in three major areas:
  • In the area of basic tumor immunology, laboratory investigation leads to additional knowledge and understanding of how the immune system can be used against cancer.
  • Work on antibody-based treatments is based on the immune system’s capacity to identify and attack possible sources of harm within the body.
  • In the area of cell-based immunotherapeutics, investigators study ways to trigger or enhance the immune system’s defenses against cancer by making tumors more visible to the system and by discovering and using the specific healthy cells which will be most effective in targeting tumor cells.
Along with their elite research team, the Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program has also assembled a robust support team. The team handles regulatory and cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) issues and provides the infrastructure necessary to conduct “first-in-human” clinical trials. Those trials constitute the first testing in humans of what the Food and Drug Administration terms “investigational new drugs” (INDs).
Another portion of the support team is the Clinical Immunobiology Correlative Studies Laboratory. It was established by the Program to gather data from treated patients to be used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of new treatments.
Research in City of Hope’s Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program has yielded a growing portfolio of active investigational new drugs. New FDA-authorized therapies impact a growing number of patients, including those with glioma; lymphoma; childhood neuroblastoma; and colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers. In the next few years, additional protocols for lung cancer, ovarian cancer, leukemias, and pediatric embryonic brain tumors will be added.
The war continues. But as long as it goes on, we at City of Hope promise you: the study will continue; the work will continue; the advancements will continue—until we can declare victory over cancer.