Dr. Carl June Featured in Two New Penn Immunotherapy Education Events


This spring, CAR-T cell therapy pioneer Carl H. June, MD, will be featured at two new educational activities to share updates on the use of CAR-T cell therapy and immunotherapy in both pancreatic cancer and blood cancers. Both events will be hosted by the Abramson Cancer Center.

Dr. June is best known for the research that led to the FDA approval of Kymriah™ (tisagenlecleucel) in 2017 – a CAR-T therapy initially developed at Penn Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Last May, the FDA also approved Kymriah for the treatment of patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

Dr. June is the Director of both Penn's Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. He is also the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Attendees of both events will have the opportunity to network with expert faculty and will leave with up-to-date, practical information with immediate clinical application, as well as a thorough technical and scientific background on the current state of the field and emerging advances in immunotherapy.

Immunology and Immunotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer CME

The first of the meetings, Immunology and Immunotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer, will take place April 11-12 in Philadelphia.

The event will host an impressive roster of national experts in pancreatic cancer care, including Dr June and Abramson Center Director and world-renowned pancreatic cancer researcher Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, who will present insights on developments in the field.

The event is designed for physicians and other healthcare professionals caring for patients with pancreatic cancer, and for medical researchers. This first-of-its-kind, CME/CNE-accredited conference is hosted by Penn Medicine's Pancreatic Cancer Research Center and the Abramson Cancer Center.

On the Agenda

Keynote speaker Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, will begin the event with a discussion on immunotherapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Director of the Abramson Cancer Center, Dr. Vonderheide is well-known among researchers for driving the development of agonist CD40 antibodies, now in late stage clinical trials as a potential immune therapy for cancer. He has spent years deciphering mechanisms of cancer immune surveillance, and has developed novel cancer therapeutics, particularly in pancreatic cancer.

As well as overseeing Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, Dr. Vonderheide is John H. Glick Abramson Cancer Center Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

A Focus on Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

Currently, many patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) see little-to-no benefit from the existing immune-modulating agents. Thus, there's a need for better strategies for activating the immune system against the disease.

Penn is currently researching and creating novel therapies, and is implementing clinical trials on emerging treatments for PDA.

"A key component of pancreatic cancer's lethality is its acquired immune privilege," explains Dr. Vonderheide. "This is driven by an immunosuppressive microenvironment, poor T-cell infiltration and a low natural burden."

"Although immunotherapies, such as checkpoint blockage or engineered T-cells, have yet to demonstrate efficacy, a growing body of evidence suggests that orthogonal combinations of these and other strategies could unlock immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer."

Later in the meeting, panels will focus on mechanisms that render pancreatic tumors resistant to immunotherapy drugs and the identification of novel targets.

CAR-T Cell Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

In a session focused on practice-changing developments, Dr. June will review CAR-T therapy and the associated promises and challenges it poses in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The remaining sessions will review clinical applications and best practices for patients currently undergoing immunotherapy, including managing toxicities and other side effects of these therapies.

Event Details

April 11 to April 12, 2019

CAR-T and the Rise of the Cellicon Valley

With a goal to revolutionize the approach to disease within the field of cellular therapy and transplant, CAR-T and the Rise of the Cellicon Valley is a new educational activity presented by Penn's Abramson Cancer Center and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Leaders in immunotherapy will review how physicians and researchers across the world are developing and using CAR-T therapy to treat cancer.

This two-day event will include three learning sessions and feature insights from more than 50 renowned cellular therapy experts, including Drs. June, Stephan A. Grupp, Bruce Levine and David Porter.

"We are particularly excited about this meeting," says Dr. Porter. "We are bringing together clinicians, scientists and thought leaders in the field of CAR-T cell therapy, which is one of the most exciting areas of cancer therapy that's come along in years."

The meeting offers an opportunity for physicians, researchers and other healthcare professionals, along with patients and their caregivers, to learn more about the latest advances in the use of CAR-T cell therapy.

On the Agenda

After a keynote from Dr. Steven Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute, sessions will be broken out for experts to weigh in on the current applications, best practices, novel strategies and future developments of CAR-T Therapy.

Sessions will dive into topics such as the current application of CAR-T cells, the globalization of CAR therapies, and the logistics of cell collection.

Dr. June will moderate a session on Overcoming Resistance/Novel CAR Strategies. This session explores proteomic strategies for identifying resistance mechanisms and therapeutic targets in lymphoma, as well as control of cellular immunotherapy. 

Event Details

May 9 to May 10, 2019

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The Penn Physician Blog is a resource for health care professionals featuring Penn Medicine physicians and their research, innovations, programs and events. 

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