While immunotherapy treatments such as checkpoint inhibitors have been a major breakthrough for cancer patients, scientists are still unraveling the mystery of why some patients respond to treatment while others do not.
A new paper in Nature from researchers at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy provides clues to help solve that riddle. These are the first major results to come out of the Parker Institute research collaborative since its launch a year ago.
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Memorial Sloan Kettering collaborating for the first time through the Parker Institute found a way to help predict whether melanoma patients will respond to the checkpoint inhibitors that target the PD-1 pathway. They found that levels of a specific biomarker, when compared with tumor burden, correlated with response to treatment.
Three Parker Institute leaders and their teams collaborated on the study. Principal investigator E. John Wherry, Ph.D., is a co-director of the Parker Institute at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center.
Co-author Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the Parker Institute at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
“Our collaboration with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania was invaluable,” said Dr. Wolchok. “This study is really emblematic of what Sean Parker and Jeff Bluestone envisioned when they created the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.”
Co-author Robert Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil., is also a co-director of the Parker Institute at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center.
The Parker Institute was founded a year ago in April 2016 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker, whose vision was to foster greater collaboration between the country’s leading scientists and cancer centers with the goal of accelerating immunotherapy research for the benefit of patients.