Immuno-oncology (IO) is an exciting new area of cancer research that holds the promise of being able to cure previously untreatable cancers. IO drugs work by reactivating a patient’s own immune system in order to fight cancer and in the past few years, several new IO treatments have been approved which effectively lead to durable cancer responses. However, these treatments only work in a subset of patients (5-45%). Gastrointestinal cancers such as colorectal cancer have proven to be highly resistant to current IO options and only 5% of metastatic colorectal cancer patients are treatable with the currently approved IO drugs. This leaves 95% of metastatic colorectal cancer patients with limited treatment options. Just in the United States alone, there will be over 145,000 new colorectal cancer diagnoses and over 51,000 deaths from the disease in 2019. Our research has uncovered an important new target for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, including colorectal and pancreatic cancer. We have developed a new therapeutic which effectively blocks this target and leads to a reduction in tumor growth, metastases, and immune suppression. We believe that this new therapeutic will not only be effective as a stand-alone therapy but that it will improve the response rate to other IO drugs. Our goal is to continue testing this therapy in newly developed animal models so that we can get the data necessary to initiate a clinical trial and move the therapy towards market approval where it can impact the lives of people suffering from cancer.
John J. Priatel
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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ME-Therapeutics Oral Presentation