7 dic. 2011

Report on the “ESCII/NIBIT Meeting 2011".
New Perspectives in the Immunotherapy of Cancer.

Alberto Anel & Martín Villalba
The general impression after this congress is that good times are coming for cancer immunotherapy. After some antibody-based immune-therapies have successfully arrived to clinical practice, multitude of approaches are now in clinical trials. The first session was devoted to “a new look at the tumor-associated antigens”.
Martín Villalba & Alberto Anel
It included lectures by Tobias Sjöblom (Upssala, Sweden), Soldano Ferrone (Pittsburgh, USA) and Kees Melief (Leiden, Netherlands) on different kinds of tumor antigens. Kees Melief, in addition to give a great talk, delighted us with a violoncello concert in the wonderful Siena palace at night. In the next session, Thomas Gajewski (Chicago, USA) showed the “inflamed” genetic imprinting of cancer tissues with improved survival. This imprinting is characterized by the expression of specific effector T cell in agreement with previous studies made in colorectal cancer by Jerome Galon (Paris, France). At the beggining of the dendritic cell (DC) session, the late Ralph Steinman was remembered as the father of the field, whom has been awarded this year with the Nobel Prize, together with Beutler and Hoffman. Carl Figdor (Njemegen, Netherlands) exposed the complexity of the biology of DC cells. Ignacio Melero (Pamplona, Spain) showed recent data on a clinical trial on metastatic cancers using DC matured in the presence of tumor lysates using a combination of activators, which attained measurable immune responses. Gerold Schuler (Erlangen, Germany) described several ongoing clinical trials on melanoma using DC vaccination and specific melanoma antigens. In the anti-tumor effectors session, Pierre Coulie (Brussels, Belgium) described the presence of “paralyzed” lymphocytes that are present in melanoma metastasis, that get activated after peptide vaccination. The anti-vaccine T cells make like a “spark” of activation, which components are being analyzed by this group or research. Rolf Kiessling (Stockholm, Sweden) began his talk using a reference that demonstrates the increased cancer risk in transplant recipients, due to immune-suppression. Some cancers are not affected by this, and are considered as poorly immunogenic, one of them being breast cancer. However, there are 28 clinical trials for breast cancer vaccination going on. Lorenzo Moretta (Milano, Italy) talked about their successful experience on NK cells for the treatment of high-risk leukemias. In the next session, Pedro Romero (Lausanne, Switzerland) described the anticancer vaccines now on testing, the advances in understanding DC maturation signals, and especially in the new generation of adjuvants. He also proposed new and common ways to test and share the immuno-monitoring of available vaccines through the Cancer Vaccine Collaborative initiative H.G. Ramennsee (Tubingen, Germany) indicated that the best tumor antigens for vaccination should be mutated antigens, present in the tumor, but not in normal tissues. He showed amazing and promising data using specific peptide vaccination against prostate cancer in combination with imiquimod as adjuvant. George Peoples (Houston, USA) described the last efforts in breast cancer vaccination. Vincent Brichard, from GlaxoSmithKline, Belgium, showed data on a clinical trial against lung cancer. The most important aspect was to choose the right adjuvant, and especially promising data were obtained with the new generation AS15 adjuvant. In the adoptive immunotherapy session, Chiara Bonnini (Milano, Italy) described the efforts to transfect T cells with specific anti-tumor antigens specific receptors. The first disease tested has been AML. Another approach is the generation of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), an strategy that has given amazing results in CLL patients, as reported this year by the Carl June team. Nathalie Labarriere (Nantes, France) showed their work on sorted antigen-specific T cells against melanoma. Robert Hawkins (Manchester, UK) showed their work using engineered T cells expressing specific CARs against gastrointestinal and B-cell cancers. In the session on the possible pitfalls of immunotherapy, Dmitry Gabrilovich (Tampa, USA) described with deep insight the role of immunosuppressive macrophages and granulocytes, which normally infiltrate tumor microenviroment, to inhibit the adaptive immune response or immunotherapies against cancer. Federico Garrido (Granada, Spain) talked about tumor escape variants, such as 50% of metastatic melanomas; Barbara Selliger (Halle, Germany), about tumor defects in the antigen-presentation machinery; Paolo Antonio Ascierto (Naples, Italy), on the Treg barrier; and Licia Rivoltini (Milan, Italy) came back to the role of myeloid derived suppressing cells in tumor escape, showing that the battle is not easy, and that many aspects should be controlled for successful immunotherapy. In the last session, Laurence Zitvogel (Paris, France) talked about the promises of chemo-immunotherapy in the fight against cancer. Too much information running through my brain, Sting would have said, but really promising for the future of our field, the next wave in cancer therapy.

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