Updated
October 21st, 2019

Precision Immunotherapy Clinic Matches Patients With Cancer Therapies

The biology of cancer is saying a personalized approach is necessary to deliver meaningful benefits

cell division for cancer cells

Using a personalized approach, Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health offers genetic profiling to treat patients who have not responded to, or relapsed from, standard treatments.

With access to experts at the Precision Immunotherapy Clinic, more patients will be matched to personalized treatments that provide a meaningful benefit to each individual, said the October 17, 2019, press release.

Ezra Cohen, M.D., associate director for translational science at Moores Cancer Center, who along with Miller, Gregory Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., and Sandip Patel, M.D., make up the Precision Immunotherapy Clinic medical oncology team, said ‘the clinic’s approach was built out of necessity to consolidate offerings to pilot research studies and early-stage Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, for people who have not responded to standard cancer treatments.’

“The biology of cancer is telling us that a personalized approach is necessary. Inserting a square peg in a round hole will not be successful,” said Dr. Cohen. 

“Every cancer is different at the molecular level.” 

“It may look the same under a microscope, but when sequenced you see the difference. Similarly, every person’s immune system is different and responds differently. We need to see what is happening at the molecular and immune levels.” 

“That’s where we will make the biggest progress.”

Precision oncology has evolved into focusing on matching the most accurate and effective treatments based not only on the genetic profile of the patient and cancer but also on other unique characteristics that distinguish one patient from another, said a 2018 study published in Nature.

‘Each patient has a unique genome, proteome, epigenome, microbiome, lifestyle, diet, and other characteristics that all interact to influence oncogenesis, disease progression, effective treatment options, drug tolerance, remission, and relapse.’

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Dr. Cohen’s efforts have already lead to a pilot study at Moores Cancer Center, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, testing a personalized vaccine using a patient’s unique cancer mutations to boost an anti-tumor immune response.

Cancer immunotherapy comes in a variety of forms, including targeted antibodies, cancer vaccines, adoptive cell transfer, tumor-infecting viruses, checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, and adjuvants, says CancerResearch.org.

Immunotherapies are a form of biotherapy because they use materials from living organisms to fight disease. 

Some immunotherapy treatments use genetic engineering to enhance immune cells’ cancer-fighting capabilities and may be referred to as gene therapies. 

Many immunotherapy treatments for preventing, managing, or treating different cancers can also be used in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted therapies to improve their effectiveness.

These UCSD efforts, along with upcoming clinical trials, are being offered at the Precision Immunotherapy Clinic thanks in part to philanthropists Ralph and Fernanda Whitworth and the Immunotherapy Foundation, which provided initial funding for this research. 

Patients who have not responded to standard therapy and are interested in immunotherapy can contact the Precision Immunotherapy Clinic at 858-246-5300.

Cancer Vaccine news published by Precision Vaccinations