Gianpietro Dotti, M.D.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Targeting B7-H3 in Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is an aggressive type of tumor for which no effective therapy is currently available when the disease comes back after chemotherapy and surgery. This has prompted Dr. Dotti to develop a strategy in which the immune system will be used to target ovarian cancer cells. An important job of the immune system is to attack and destroy abnormal cells in our bodies. Some abnormal cells are able to escape from being recognized by the immune system and cancers develop. T cells are white blood cells that are part of the immune system that can identify and attack abnormal cells. Recent advances in cancer treatments are using the immune system T cells to attack cancers. Dr. Dotti and his colleagues are developing a new way to attack ovarian cancer by modifying a person’s own immune system T cells to re-direct them to specifically kill tumor cells. The modified T cells can recognize a tumor antigen called B7-H3 that they found on most ovarian cancer cells. An antigen is a substance on a cell that can be the target of an immune system response. The modified T cell therapy is referred to as “B7-H3.CAR T cells”. Additionally, they will use novel drugs to attack some other cells within the tumor to further increase the activity of the B7-H3.CAR T cells. Dr. Dotti will do experiments in mice and, if promising, this approach will be used clinically in women with ovarian cancer later on.