Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program

Peter P. Lee, M.D., Co-leader
Hua Yu, Ph.D., Co-leader
Program Members -If you would like an updated membership list, please contact Kim Lu at
The Cancer Immunotherapeutics (CI) Program is focused on discovery and application to clinical practice of efficacious and minimally toxic immunotherapeutic interventions for cancer. The long-term goal of the CI Program is to develop insights made by tumor immunologists into novel therapeutic approaches in preclinical model systems, which are then taken through rigorous process development to yield therapeutics of sufficient quality for use in human clinical trials.
CI has established a robust support team comprising the regulatory, cGMP manufacturing and clinical trials infrastructure to conduct first-in-human clinical exploration under Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized investigational new drugs (INDs). We established the Clinical Immunobiology Correlative Studies Laboratory for the purpose of generating data from treated patients and, using validated assay platforms, informing our translational and basic scientists of clinically relevant immunobiology that impacts therapeutic efficacy and safety.
CI has three major components: (i) basic tumor immunology, (ii) antibody-based immunotherapeutics and (iii) cell-based immunotherapeutics. Program research spans understanding basic principles of immunologic escape by tumors, engineering of antibodies and antibody fragments for radioimmunotherapy, imaging and the derivation of immunocytokines, use of viral vectors for tumor vaccines and genetic engineering of T cell s for adoptive immunotherapy.
INDs and Clinical Protocols
  • The CI Program's growing portfolio of active FDA INDs covers a variety of genetic engineering products, recombinant antibody proteins and genetically modified cells.
  • FDA-authorized clinical protocols cover a growing number of patient populations, including those with CEA-expressing carcinomas (colorectal and breast), prostate cancer, glioma, lymphoma and childhood neuroblastoma.
  • In the next few years, additional protocols for lung cancer, ovarian cancer, leukemias and pediatric embryonal brain tumors will be added, and multimodality immunotherapy protocols will commence.
Program Goals
  • Develop and improve lymphocyte genetic engineering and adoptive T cell transfer-based immunotherapy for oncologic disease
  • Develop molecularly-targeted therapies to overcome tumor-induced immune suppression, thereby enhancing the efficacies of cell- and antibody-based immunotherapeutic modalities
  • Develop novel antibody-based therapeutics for imaging and treatment of both solid tumors and hematopoietic malignancies
CI Members' Research
Members of the CI Program have expertise in the specialized areas of cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology. Of particular interest to this program are the fields of antibody-based radioimmunotherapy, cell- and vaccine-based immunotherapeutics, immunopharmacologic drugs, signaling between tumor and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, tumor-induced immune suppression, and phase I and II clinical trials. Knowledge gained from these studies is applied toward development of innovative, multimodality cancer therapeutics to enhance immune responses against tumor cells.