A team of University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center researchers studying new drugs designed to break resistance to cancer immunotherapy has been awarded a V Foundation for Cancer Research translational grant of $600,000 over three years.
Led by Judith A. Varner, PhD, professor in the departments of Pathology and Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, the team will build upon research recently published in the journal Nature in which they identified the enzyme PI-3 kinase gamma (PI3Ky) as a molecular switch controlling immune suppression. The researchers will conduct clinical trials to test a PI3Ky inhibitor, called IPI-549, alone and in combination with other drugs in head and neck cancers to boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy.
“Check-point inhibitors have received a great deal of attention because they have saved the lives of some people with advanced cancer, but these drugs have not worked in most people,” said Varner. “Research shows that patients with cancer have profound immune suppression. Our work identifies a path to turn off immune suppression. And we have the drug that can do it, as demonstrated in animal models of cancer.”