How is SDCPI Accelerating Progress in this Area?

Immunotherapy stands at the frontier of cancer medicine and UC San Diego is uniquely poised to lead the way in mobilizing this therapy for patients. We collaborate with partners across the Torrey Pines Mesa, including The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, and Scripps Research to make new advances possible.

Recent areas of focus include the following:
Immune modulation. We are developing new ways to more effectively block a tumor’s ability to shut down immune responses as well as enhancing the tumor-killing capacity of a patient’s T-cells.

Personalized vaccines. Using cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology, we are able to identify the specific tumor neoantigens that are recognized by a patient’s immune system. This information can be used to generate a precision vaccine to guide T cells to exactly the right target for eradicating existing tumors and preventing their recurrence.

T-cell engineering. A patient’s T-cells can be removed and genetically-engineered to recognize specific tumor cell proteins before being reinfused back to the patient where they can target cancer cells throughout the body.

Clinical Trials. Through approximately 60 active immunotherapy focused clinical trials, a third of which are exclusive to Moores Cancer Center, we are investigating options including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which uses patient immune response to eliminate abnormal cells through genetic modification; combination therapy for advanced cancers, which has shown a mix of checkpoint inhibitors and chemotherapy to be effective against typically resistant metastatic cancer in study models; and how modulating a tumor’s microenvironment can achieve improved efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors.

SDCPI is changing the face of cancer care as we know it by establishing a seamless link between the laboratory and the clinic to accelerate the pace of discovery and facilitate translation of basic science into new medicine for the treatment of cancer.