How CAR-T Cell Therapy is Impacting Solid Tumor Cancer Research

By David Haas
Wednesday June 5, 2019

Treatment options available to cancer patients have both improved and grown over the past decade. The development of personalized medicine has enabled patients to seek a new route, tailoring their treatments specifically to their situations. One outcome of this unique treatment approach is the development of CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T) cell therapy (see: Taking Personalized Medicine to a New Level: CAR-T Cell Therapy). Continue reading “How CAR-T Cell Therapy is Impacting Solid Tumor Cancer Research”

Worldwide Trends in HIV Vaccine: Are We There Yet?

By Olivier Lucar
October 16, 2018

Chronic HIV infection remains a major public health issue. According to 2017 data from UNAIDS, there are still 36.9 million HIV-positive individuals worldwide, including 1.1 million in the USA, of whom 1 in 7 are unaware of their status. HIV infection usually has a slow and paucisymptomatic infectious development, which makes recognition of infection difficult and leads to its persistence. HIV disproportionately affects individuals in less developed countries and can only be treated with multiple expensive drugs, the availability of which depends on the country. Furthermore, despite the phenomenal progress in anti-HIV drug efficacy (leading to sustained undetectable levels of viral load), long-term infection and treatment are associated with other comorbidities from cardiovascular diseases to certain cancers (Taiwo et al., 2013). The search for therapeutic or prophylactic vaccines remains the best option to fight HIV and prevent its permanent development. Continue reading “Worldwide Trends in HIV Vaccine: Are We There Yet?”

Taking Personalized Medicine to a New Level: CAR-T Cell Therapy

By Martina McGrath, MD
September 13, 2017

Each individual is estimated to have around 4 x 1011 T cells, comprising many millions of T cell clones,1 each randomly produced in the thymus with a unique T cell receptor (TCR) specific for a given antigen. This massive diversity in T cell repertoire gives our immune systems the capacity to protect against the incredible array of bacteria, viruses and fungi that assail us on a constant basis. Continue reading “Taking Personalized Medicine to a New Level: CAR-T Cell Therapy”

IgG4-Related Disease: The Great Pretender

[Featured image of solid pseudopapillary tumor (SPT) of the pancreas.]

By Martina M. McGrath, MD
March 24, 2017

Retroperitoneal fibrosis, autoimmune pancreatitis, Reidel’s thyroiditis, sclerosing cholangitis and Mikulicz’s disease, sclerosing aortitis and periaortitis – what do all of these conditions have in common?

IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a chronic, fibro-inflammatory condition with a characteristic histological appearance including dense lymphoplasmacytic infiltration with large numbers of IgG4-positive plasma cells, storiform fibrosis, obliterative phlebitis,and eosinophil infiltration. 1 It is now recognized as the cause of a large number of chronic inflammatory conditions, previously considered idiopathic, including those listed above. IgG4-RD is the most common cause of Type I autoimmune pancreatitis. 2 Continue reading “IgG4-Related Disease: The Great Pretender”

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: Collateral Damage and Organ Toxicities

By Martina M. McGrath, MD
February 3, 2017

Cancer immunotherapy has led to a paradigm shift in the treatment of a range of malignancies. Recently developed, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICPI) are monoclonal antibodies, which specifically block immunological pathways involved in the control of T cell-mediated immune responses. Anti-CTLA4 (ipilimumab) blocks the interaction of CTLA-4, expressed by regulatory T cells, with its ligand, B7, allowing for increased T cell activation via CD28-B7 signalling. Similarly anti-PD-1 (nivolumab, pembrolizumab, pidilizumab) prevents interaction between PD-1 and its ligand PD-L1, another critical negative T cell costimulatory pathway. By ‘removing the brake’ for T cell activation, these agents increase anti-tumor immunity and overcome some of the mechanisms by which tumors evade the immune response. Management of diseases such as metastatic melanoma have been transformed by the availability of these agents and studies continue to show benefit in an increasing number of malignancies. Continue reading “Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: Collateral Damage and Organ Toxicities”