Cancer Immunotherapy

Cancer Immunotherapy

Immunotherapies use the body’s own disease-fighting immune system to kill cancer cells. In 25 percent of cases, the results are lifesaving. Immunotherapies have already improved outcomes in several cancer types: melanoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, lung, kidney, bladder, head and neck, liver, Merkel cell, and gastrointestinal cancers. Dana-Farber has been at the forefront of these advances.

Funds raised through The Dana-Farber Campaign will help us extend the powerful benefits of immunotherapies to more patients by speeding our efforts to answer the biggest unanswered questions in this field, including: why does immunotherapy work for some patients and not others? Can side effects be reduced? How do we combine immunotherapies with other treatments to improve survival rates? And how do we treat all cancers with immunotherapies?

We will expand our therapeutic cancer vaccine efforts, which can stimulate the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Our research has already spurred development of one personalized cancer vaccine approach, first tested by Dana-Farber in patients with melanoma. Called NeoVax, this methodology is now being tested here in glioblastoma, kidney cancer, and ovarian cancer. Our goal is to discover new ways to maximize this vaccine’s effect and make it an option for treating many different cancers.

The campaign will also help us sharpen and strengthen the immune system’s cancer-fighting powers by enhancing the effectiveness of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, currently available only at Dana-Farber and a handful of other centers in the U.S. Our goal now: to make this therapy, used to treat some forms of leukemia and lymphoma, effective in treating a range of other blood cancers and some solid tumors.

Through a combination of laboratory research, enhanced technology, and clinical trials advancing “first-in-human” tests of potential new treatments, we will swiftly translate discoveries into the next breakthrough immunotherapy drugs for patients.

For more information or questions, please contact Patty Brent.

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