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New Neoantigen-Based Treatments

Stephen Schoenberger, PhD
Co-Director, San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy
Professor, Laboratory of Cellular Immunology
La Jolla Institute for Immunology
Director of Translational Science, San Diego Center for Cancer Immunotherapy
Head of Cancer Vaccines, Human Longevity, Inc.


Dr. Schoenberger’s work has promising implications for some of the most challenging forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Creating more accurate and sophisticated modeling systems could enable physician-scientists to identify the cancers most likely to respond to NeoAg-based therapies and advance these adoptive cellular therapies to preclinical trials. Funding for this project was generously provided by the Kimmelman Family.

The Need
In the last few decades, the rate of cancer discoveries has accelerated rapidly. From immunotherapeutics to disease mechanisms, our knowledge of cancer evolves on an almost daily basis. One of the most significant breakthroughs in the last several years is an increased understanding of how T cells respond to NeoAg tumor mutations.

The Opportunity
Stephen Schoenberger, PhD, is leading an interdisciplinary effort to identify NeoAg-specific T cell responses in patients using a combination of genomic sequencing, bioinformatics analysis and functional testing of TIL. Using surgical tumor specimens, Dr. Schoenberger and his team will sequence the genomes of these samples, develop a patient-derived xenograft and isolate TILs. These elements will be subjected to analysis to identify specific mutations eligible for drug targets. In addition, the samples will be used to recreate the tumor environment in which the team can observe the T cell response to NeoAg and evaluate the effects of different therapies on tumor growth. In conjunction with a patient- derived xenograft (a tissue sample taken directly from the patient’s tumor and used in animal models) that can be used to observe and test NeoAg-specific T cell response, this project will advance effective new clinical care options and expand the range of cancer types precision immunotherapy can treat.

The Impact
Dr. Schoenberger’s work has promising implications for some of the most challenging forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Creating more accurate and sophisticated modeling systems could enable physician-scientists to identify the cancers most likely to respond to NeoAg-based therapies and advance these adoptive cellular therapies to preclinical trials.