I am a hematologist with a special interest in the treatment of multiple myeloma and immunotherapy. My clinical research focuses on combining current treatments for myeloma (including those now in clinical trials) with immunotherapy. This makes sense because our current treatments and those treatments that are now in clinical trials often wipe out most or all measurable disease, but any residual disease can lead to relapse. The goal of immunotherapy is to target this residual disease and eliminate it, preventing relapse.
Cancer-Testis antigens are a group of proteins that are normally found only on cells in the developing testis and placenta, these sites are protected from attack by the immune system. The vast majority of patients with myeloma have been found to have these proteins on their myeloma cells, making these proteins an excellent target for immunotherapy.
MAGE-A3 is a cancer-testis antigen that has been found to be present on the myeloma cells of about a third of all patients at diagnosis and two thirds of patients at time of relapse. A MAGE-A3 protein vaccine has been tested in patients with lung cancer and melanoma. I am currently collaborating with colleagues at NYU and Fox Chase Cancer Center on a clinical trial of MAGE-A3 vaccination following high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant.
In collaboration with my colleagues at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, I am also working to identify other cancer-testis antigens that may be suitable targets of immunotherapy either alone or in combination with the MAGE-A3 vaccine.