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NCI Awards $14.5 Million Grant for Immunotherapy Research


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Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD

Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD

A team led by Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD, of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, has earned a 5-year, $14.5 million award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to expand a promising immunotherapy platform. Funded through the NCI’s Program Project Grant, this 5-year grant will fund five clinical trials, all focused on a strategy for making some of the most common immunotherapies work for more patients with cancer.

“Our goal with this project is to convert cancers that are traditionally checkpoint-resistant into treatable, ‘hot’ tumors so more patients will be able to benefit from some of the most commonly prescribed immunotherapies,” said Dr. Kalinski, Vice Chair for Translational Research, the Rustum Family Professor for Molecular Therapeutics and Translational Research, and Director of Cancer Vaccine and Dendritic Cell Therapies at Roswell Park. 

Currently, depending on their cancer type and the genetic characteristics of their tumors, about 20% of patients with cancer are good candidates for checkpoint inhibitors—drugs such as pembrolizumab, nivolumab, and ipilimumab. Even among those patients who are likely to respond initially to treatment with a checkpoint inhibitor, 60% to 70% are likely to have their cancers recur or progress. 

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG

“Dr. Kalinski and colleagues have built a compelling case in support of their out-of-the-box approach to cancer immunotherapy,” commented Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, Deputy Director and Executive Director of the Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “All of us in the field will be eagerly following this elegant work.” 

 


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