By Leslie Loddeke, Publications Coordinator, Melanoma Medical Oncology Department
MD Anderson Melanoma Medical Oncology Chair Patrick Hwu, M.D., and Professor Wen-Jen Hwu, M.D., Ph.D., were coauthors of one of the papers named in Nature Medicine's "Notable advances 2012" list of the year's top basic biomedical discoveries.
The article notes "certain areas of biomedicine saw fast-paced discovery this year" in presenting its list of "the papers that helped these fields advance quickly" in 2012.
Under the heading "Immunotherapy: Co-receptor clampdown," the article cited two papers that made the inhibitory co-receptor PD-1 (programmed cell death protein 1, found on T cells) "one of the darlings of the cancer immunotherapy field this year."
A team led by scientists from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine reported the findings of a study of a PD-1-specific antibody in patients with different types of cancer in a New England Journal of Medicine article, as well as those from a companion study in a second article, "Safety and Activity of Anti-PD-L1 Antibody in Patients with Advanced Cancer."
MD Anderson's two co-authors on the second study reflect the department's participation in the clinical trial. Wen-Jen Hwu was principal investigator at the MD Anderson site. In that study, researchers reported that "of 207 patients with advanced cancer who received an anti-PDL1 antibody, 6-17% of evaluable patients experienced an objective response (either complete or partial)," Nature Medicine noted.
Despite the fact that it remains unknown why only certain tumors and patients responded to the antibodies, "these trials further validate immune modulation of T cell activity as a therapeutic approach to cancer treatment," Nature Medicine concluded.