Cancer Centers Combine Expertise To Optimize Advanced Immunotherapy Strategies

Washington /PRNewswire/ - Physician researchers from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Washington, D.C., and John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) in Hackensack, New Jersey, announce today the formation of the Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program.

The Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program will accelerate discovery and implementation of a new immunotherapy approach, which combines the full potential of two potent strategies currently used in treating cancer: cancer immunotherapy and bone marrow stem cell transplantation.

"We are at the dawn of an exciting new era," explains Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi. "The future of successful cancer therapy will rely heavily upon immunotherapythe power of the immune system to recognize and destroy malignant cells, and then to remember and eliminate cancers that try to recur."

Georgetown Lombardi, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and JTCC, part of Hackensack University Medical Center, already offer the most advanced clinical trials available using investigational immunotherapy drugs. And both offer transplant programs that manipulate the immune cells via both allogeneic (donor) and autologous (patient) transplants to treat patients with blood cancers.

"By combining these two strategies in attacking cancer, we believe it's possible to optimize the true promise of immunotherapy and extend treatment options to specific patient populations," says Andr Goy, MD, MS, chairman of JTCC. "This approach is only now emerging at a very limited number of cancer centers in the U.S."

One example of the new strategy would be to combine an immunotherapy drug such as a PD-1 inhibitor, which selectively unleashes immune cells, with an adoptive cellular therapy to assist reconstitution of the immune system following immune cell-depleting chemotherapy. This strategy is designed to deliver an overwhelming blow against a blood cancer.

In addition to the therapeutic impact, the Regional Immunotherapy Discovery Program has broad regional accessibility via physician researchers from Georgetown Lombardi in Washington, the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Network in Maryland and Washington, Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) with offices throughout New Jersey, and JTTC in Hackensack. This means cancer patients living in the northeast corridor between Washington and the New York metropolitan area will have easy access to state-of-the-art immunotherapy clinical trials and care.

Michael B. Atkins, MD, an internationally recognized expert in immunotherapy and deputy director of Georgetown Lombardi, and Andrew L. Pecora, MD, president of RCCA, will lead the program, which builds on an oncology affiliation that Georgetown Lombardi, a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated-comprehensive cancer center, and JTCC established in 2013. As part of the affiliation, the two institutions are working toward becoming an NCI-recognized consortium center, in which investigators from separate but collaborating scientific institutions contribute actively to the development and actualization of a specific cancer research agenda.

About John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack UMC is among the nation's top 50 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals for cancer the highest-ranked inNew Jersey with this designation. It is ;New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive cancer center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, preventive care, as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancer.

Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to the John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. The 14 specialized divisions feature a team of medical, research, nursing, and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into more advanced, focused care for all patients. The John Theurer Cancer Center provides comprehensive multidisciplinary care, state of the art technology, access to clinical trials, compassionate care and medical expertiseall under one roof. Physicians at the John Theurer Cancer Center are members of Regional Cancer Care Associates one of the nation's largest professional hematology/oncology groups. For more information please visit

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Cancer Centers Combine Expertise To Optimize Advanced Immunotherapy Strategies

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