November 2017 — Multispectral Tumor Imaging May Guide Precision Immunotherapy
While novel immunotherapies are revolutionizing the way some cancers are treated, not all patients will respond to treatment, underlining the need for biomarkers that can predict potential clinical benefit and monitor a patient’s response.
Until recently, immune activity within and surrounding a tumor was typically analyzed through staining of an individual biomarker on a pathological slide, or though cell sorting and analysis of a homogenized tumor sample. New technology available at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center’s Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory (IMCPL) now enables multispectral automated imaging of intact tumor tissues, allowing for the rapid detection and quantitation of multiple overlapping biomarkers and simultaneous evaluation of their spatial context within the tissue architecture.
Watch Lisa Butterfield, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Surgery and Immunology; Director of the Hillman IMCPL; and President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) describe the importance of this new technology in informing and guiding precision cancer immunotherapy going forward.
October 2017 — Combination Targeted Therapy Improves Survival of Stage III Melanoma Patients
It is estimated that 40% of melanomas contain BRAF mutations that promote cancer cell growth. While previous studies have shown that treatment with the combination of inhibitors targeting BRAF (dabrafenib) and MEK (trametinib) improved survival in patients with advanced, unresectable metastatic BRAF-mutant melanoma, it was not clear whether this combination would have the same effect in an adjuvant setting.
A team led by John M. Kirkwood, MD, Thomas and Sandra Usher Professor of Medicine, Dermatology and Translational Science, and Co-Leader of the Hillman Melanoma Program, conducted a phase III, double-blind, randomized clinical trial in patients with stage III, BRAF-mutated melanoma whose tumors had been surgically removed, and found that the adjuvant use of combination therapy with dabrafenib plus trametinib for 12 months resulted in a 53% lower risk of relapse compared to placebo. At 3 years, the rate of relapse-free survival was 58% in the combination-therapy group and 39% in the placebo group. These results were recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).
Watch Dr. Kirkwood discuss this study and its potential impact in the video below.
September 2017 — Hillman Legacy Lives On at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
Through Hillman Foundation and Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the late Henry and Elsie Hillman made generous contributions throughout the Pittsburgh region, especially in science and medicine. Their vision of making Pittsburgh a renowned leader in cancer care became a reality in 2002 with a $10 million grant to establish the Hillman Cancer Center, a world-class institution housing both research laboratories and clinical treatment facilities under one roof. Their generous support of the Hillman Fellows for Innovative Cancer Research Program, established in 2004, has helped to attract promising young researchers and to foster the development of novel cancer treatments. The Hillman Fellows Program will continue to grow and flourish, with a newly announced commitment of $30 million from Henry L. Hillman Foundation to support the Program over the next 10 years.