Scientists at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center are at the forefront of immunotherapy research, racing to create more precise treatments that incorporate individual biology, tumors, and immune system response.
Researchers also are focused on determining which immunotherapies will be effective across cancer types and why they work in some patients and not in others.
“Our goal is to have a clinical study or therapy available for every patient referred to us,” says Lawrence Fong, MD, Efim Guzik Distinguished Professor in Cancer Biology and co-leader of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, which launched in 2015.
My dream is that eventually precision immunotherapies will kill cancers outright and completely avert the need for surgery or conventional therapies.
At the program’s new Cancer Immunotherapy Clinic, physician-scientists like Amy Lin, MD, use immunotherapies as first- or second-line treatments when possible and offer clinical studies. “There is a lot to be learned, and that’s the whole point of this type of clinic,” she says. “We’re adding therapies, mixing therapies, studying immunology, and learning at an exponential rate.”
Fong says the clinic and its companion Cancer Immunotherapy Laboratory offer patients a unique advantage that goes even beyond rare access to novel treatments. “We obtain samples from every patient and have world-leading scientists study what’s going on with the person’s individual tumor and immune system so we can move toward having the right cancer therapy and right immunotherapy for every patient,” says Fong. “My dream is that eventually precision immunotherapies will kill cancers outright and completely avert the need for surgery or conventional therapies.”