Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of six elite academic institutions to share an unprecedented total of $540 million in new financial support from Ludwig Cancer Research, an international community of distinguished scientists pursuing innovative ways to prevent and control cancer.
Memorial Sloan Kettering will receive $90 million, which will support immunology research at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Immunologists Jedd Wolchok and Alexander Rudensky discuss how this extraordinary gift will impact their efforts to explore and develop novel therapies that act by stimulating or strengthening the immune system’s inherent ability to fight cancer.
Staffed by some of the world’s leading experts in the field, the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy has generated several experimental treatments that have progressed to pivotal phase III trials. One trial contributed to the development of ipilimumab (YervoyTM), an innovative cancer therapy that works by manipulating a patient’s immune system and the first drug shown to help patients with advanced melanoma live longer.
Dr. Wolchok — who is also a medical oncologist and serves as Associate Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy — says that the gift will have a “transformative effect” on his work evaluating immunotherapeutic approaches and translating preclinical strategies into clinical trials, including the clinical research he is leading into the use of ipilimumab in melanoma patients.
The gift will help expand the state-of-the-art Immune Monitoring Core Facility, which allows Dr. Wolchok and his team to measure the impact of new immunologic therapies in patients enrolled in clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering, as well as at collaborating sites all over the world.
Dr. Rudensky, who is Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, describes the research support as a “lifeline…[that] will enable us to expand and accelerate our ability to engage in high-risk, high-impact, cutting-edge research at the intersection of immunology, cancer biology, and clinical oncology.”