Stimulating interferon genes to interfere with cancer

2016

Challenge

There are currently very few treatment options for patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer. Only 20% of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma respond to immunotherapy, despite many displaying a T cell-inflamed phenotype, which highlights the serious need to develop new therapies for this disease.

Advance

IRP researchers led by Clint Allen, M.D., discovered that the stimulation of interferon genes induces a robust anti-tumor immune response in a mouse model of T cell-inflamed head and neck cancer, controlling the growth of primary tumors and rejecting those tumors that were already established.

Impact

The team's research indicates that it may be possible to control the growth of head and neck cancer through the activation of interferon genes. As a result of the initial animal studies, a Phase I clinical trial is now underway, and, if shown to be clinically safe and effective, this therapeutic approach has the potential to transform treatment options for patients with head and neck cancer.

Publications

Moore E, Clavijo PE, Davis R, Cash H, Van Waes C, Kim Y, Allen C. (2016). Established T Cell–Inflamed Tumors Rejected after Adaptive Resistance Was Reversed by Combination STING Activation and PD-1 Pathway BlockadeCancer Immunology Res. 4(12):1061-1071.