GRANTEE: Philip Greenberg, MD
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Research Project: Targeting PDA with T-Cells Engineered to Express a Mesothelin-Specific TCR
Award: 2016 Abby Sobrato – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
Award Period: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018
Dr. Greenberg studied biology at Washington University in St. Louis and then earned his MD from State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center. He underwent his internship and fellowship training in medicine at University Hospital, University of California at San Diego. Currently, he is a professor in the oncology division of the department of medicine and in the department of immunology at the University of Washington (UW) and a member in the division of clinical research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). He was a founding member of the UW department of immunology and the founding head of the program in immunology at the FHCRC.
Dr. Greenberg’s advisory and editorial responsibilities provide frequent opportunities to interact with leaders in the field of tumor immunology and to stay abreast of promising advances and new technologies. This includes serving on the advisory boards of several major cancer centers, both in the United States and internationally, and being a member of the fellowship review committee for the Cancer Research Institute and of the clinical investigator career development award committee for the Damon-Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. He also serves on numerous editorial boards, including current memberships on the boards of the journals Cancer Cell and Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. Finally, he was recently appointed one of two editors-in-chief for the AACR journal, Cancer Immunology Research, and he hopes to position it as the premier journal for research in the field of cancer immunology.
Dr. Greenberg seeks to take an immunotherapeutic approach to treating pancreatic cancer. Immunotherapy entails training patients’ own immune systems to recognize and attack their cancer cells.
Specifically, Dr. Greenberg proposes to train a type of cell in the immune system, called T-cells, to target cancer cells that are in the pancreas and that have spread, or metastasized, elsewhere in the body. Experiments conducted in mice genetically engineered to develop pancreatic cancer have shown that injection of T-cells designed to recognize mesothelin, a protein on the surface of pancreatic cancer cells, led to the T-cells preferentially accumulating at the site of the tumor, killing cancer cells, inhibiting metastatic spread and extending survival of the mice. In fact, Dr. Greenberg and his colleagues’ published findings represent the first report of a non-chemotherapy regimen that significantly extends survival in this mouse model.
For his funded project, Dr. Greenberg will determine the ideal strategy to develop mesothelin-targeted T-cells and develop the method to administer those T-cells to patients. Next, he will conduct a phase 1 clinical trial testing the safety and anti-tumor activity of mesothelin-targeted T-cells in patients with pancreatic tumors that cannot be surgically removed. The second arm of the clinical trial will test his immunotherapeutic approach in patients who have undergone surgery. Overall, the proposed translational study builds on findings in a highly predictive animal model and on transformative technologies to develop an immunotherapy for successful targeting of pancreatic cancer.