Keith Knutson, PhD
Mayo Clinic Jacksonville
2020 Cookie Laughlin Pilot Study Award
Combination Th17-inducing vaccination and immune checkpoint blockade for ovarian cancer treatment
Several types of immunotherapies that use the person’s own immune system to attack foreign “cancer” cells while leaving normal cells alone are being tested in ovarian cancer. Using immunotherapy to activate an immune pathway known as checkpoint blockade can boost the killing immune response against cancer cells. In addition, Dr. Knutson’s laboratory developed another type of immunotherapy – a cancer vaccine that causes other cells of the immune system, called T helper 17 cells (TH17), to kill cancer cells. Preliminary data suggest that these two promising therapies would be more effective when used in combination with one another. In this study, Dr. Knutson will test 1) whether the therapeutic efficacy of Th17-inducing vaccine can be improved by combining the vaccine with an immune checkpoint blockade therapy in a mouse model, 2) whether it’s safe, and 3) how the therapy improves survival. Collectively, this research aims to provide an innovative, immune-based combination therapy for preventing the recurrence of ovarian cancer.