Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Penn Institute for Immunology

IFI Members in the News


December 2017

CAR-T Therapy Leads to Durable Response in Lymphoma Study

CAR-T Therapy Leads to Durable Response in Lymphoma Study

Two studies led by Stephen J. Schuster, MD, director of the Lymphoma Program in the Abramson Cancer Center, show CAR T therapy can lead to high rates of durable remission for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Schuster presented the results of a global, multi-site trial at the 2017 ASH Annual Meeting. The results of a pilot study with longer follow-up are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Penn Medicine to Offer Womb Transplants After Successful Birth in Dallas

Penn Medicine to Offer Womb Transplants After Successful Birth in Dallas

After the announcement of the country’s first live birth following a uterus transplant at Baylor University Medical Center, 6ABC sat down with Kate O’Neill, MD, MTR, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Paige Porrett, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Transplant Surgery – co-principal investigators on Penn’s Uterine Transplantation for Uterine Factor Infertility (UNTIL) trial – to discuss this milestone, the impact on the field, and the recent launch of the UNTIL trial.

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November 2017

Experts Tout the Power of Precision Medicine

Experts Tout the Power of Precision Medicine

Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, director of the Abramson Cancer Center, was part of aU.S. News & World Report expert panel that discussed the challenges facing health care, and how the field must change to face the future.
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Why Do We Still Grow Flu Vaccines in Chicken Eggs?

Why Do We Still Grow Flu Vaccines in Chicken Eggs?

Research from the lab of Scott Hensley, PhD, an associate professor of Microbiology, has found that manufacturing the flu vaccine in chicken eggs introduced mutations that reduced vaccine effectiveness. This problem is widely known among vaccine experts, but it was particularly bad last year for the H3N2 strain of flu that dominated the season.

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New Gene Treatment Effective for Some Leukemia Patients

New Gene Treatment Effective for Some Leukemia Patients

Carl June, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center, is quoted in a New York Times story about a new CAR T approach targeting CD22 instead of CD19 for patients with leukemia.
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CAR T-Cell Therapy: The New Frontier of Hope

CAR T-Cell Therapy: The New Frontier of Hope

Oncology Times tells the story of Emily Whitehead, the first pediatric patient to receive CAR T-Cell therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. David L. Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and part of Emily’s treatment team at Penn and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is quoted.
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Today's Aggressive Anti-Cancer Therapies Wouldn't Exist Without Early Struggles

Today's Aggressive Anti-Cancer Therapies Wouldn't Exist Without Early Struggles

Paul A. Offit, MD, chair of Vaccinology and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, writes about the early struggles of gene therapy and the side effect of cytokine release syndrome. He focuses on the team led by Carl June, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center, that has found a way to manage that effect during their research on CAR T cell therapies.
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Flu Season Is Here, and Experts Are Already Concerned

Flu Season Is Here, and Experts Are Already Concerned

Coverage continues on new research from the lab of Scott Hensley, PhD, an associate professor of Microbiology, which concluded that growing the flu virus in chicken eggs introduced mutations that reduced the effectiveness. This problem was particularly bad for the H3N2 strain of flu last year, but this year’s vaccine may also be imperfect.
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A Penn Scientist Says He Knows Why Last Year's Flue Vaccine Was So Bad

A Penn Scientist Says He Knows Why Last Year's Flue Vaccine Was So Bad

New research from the lab of Scott Hensley, PhD, an associate professor of Microbiology, has concluded that growing the flu virus in chicken eggs last year introduced mutations that reduced the effectiveness, which explains why many people who received flu shots got sick anyway. This problem is widely known among vaccine experts, but it was particularly bad last year for the H3N2 strain of flu that dominated the season.
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CAR T-Cell Therapy Is Making Untreatable Cancer Treatable

CAR T-Cell Therapy Is Making Untreatable Cancer Treatable

The Daily Beast talks with David L. Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, about the current benefits and future promise of CAR T cell therapy.
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October 2017

How Gut Bacteria Saved 'Dirty Mice' from Death

How Gut Bacteria Saved 'Dirty Mice' from Death

John Wherry, PhD, a professor of Microbiology, commented in a Science article about a study that transplanted gut bacteria from wild mice into “clean” lab mice. This “addition” made those rodents less likely to die from the flu or develop cancer.
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Norovirus Evades Immune System by Hiding Out in Rare Gut Cells

Norovirus Evades Immune System by Hiding Out in Rare Gut Cells

PHILADELPHIA — Noroviruses  are the leading cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis in the world and are estimated to cause 267 million infections and 20,000 deaths each year. Although often referred to as the “cruise ship” virus in the United States, noroviruses are an expensive and serious public health problem particularly among young children, the elderly, and immune-compromised patients. Now, in a new study published in Immunity this week, researchers E. John Wherry, PhD and Vesselin Tomov, MD from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have used a mouse model to show that, even in immunized animals, noroviruses can escape the immune system and still spread by hiding out in an extremely rare type of cell in the gut.
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Circumventing Infection

Circumventing Infection

Disease-causing bacteria often attempt to shut down a host cell’s immune response in order to thrive. Research led by the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Igor Brodsky shows how host cells can fight back by triggering their own death to keep infections contained.
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Viral Strategies

Viral Strategies

Led by Carolina López of the School of Veterinary Medicine, a team including researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Science has resolved a paradox of viral infection. They’ve identified how a viral product can both trigger an immune response aimed at eliminating the virus or, conversely, allow the virus to survive and persist.
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Why CAR-T Therapies Don't Work for Everyone Yet

Why CAR-T Therapies Don't Work for Everyone Yet

David L. Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, is quoted in a story exploring the reasons why CAR T therapy works for some patients but not for others.
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September 2017

F.D.A. Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment

F.D.A. Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment

In a historic move in the fight against cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved CAR T cell therapy for treatment of patients as old as 25 with a form of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The personalized cellular therapy was developed at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), led by Carl June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center; and Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, the Yetta Deitch Novotny Professor of Pediatrics at Penn, director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program, and chief of Cell Therapy and Transplant at CHOP.
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"Make the Best of it Bash" Donates $500,000 to Penn Medicine Melanoma Research

Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, director of the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC), andL ynn Schuchter, MD, chief of Hematology/Oncology, are mentioned in an article about the Tara Miller Foundation’s “Make the Best of It Bash” donation of $500,000 to the ACC for melanoma research.
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Barbara Netter's Lifesaving Role in New Cancer Treatment

Barbara Netter's Lifesaving Role in New Cancer Treatment

The Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, founded in Connecticut by Barbara Netter and her late husband Edward, was one of the earliest supporters of CAR T cell therapy, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Carl June, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in the Abramson Cancer Center, spoke about the role that initial support played in his research.
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Cancer Research, Parker Institutes to Test I-O Combos for Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer Research, Parker Institutes to Test I-O Combos for Pancreatic Cancer

The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy has launched its first trial, which will be led by Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, the director of the Abramson Cancer Center. The trial, which has already begun enrolling patients, will evaluate combinations of immunotherapies with chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer.
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Powerful Childhood Cancer Treatment Holds Promise - and Poses Hazards

Powerful Childhood Cancer Treatment Holds Promise - and Poses Hazards

Scientific American examines the promise of CAR T therapy, as well as the rates of recurrence and non-response among some patients. David L. Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, is quoted.
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Abramson Cancer Center Appoints Deputy Director

Abramson Cancer Center Appoints Deputy Director

Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, has been named deputy director of Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. An expert in the field of cancer genetics, Nathanson will oversee several aspects of the cancer center’s scientific and clinical missions.
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Local Doctors Talk FDA Approval of Childhood Leukemia Treatment

Local Doctors Talk FDA Approval of Childhood Leukemia Treatment

David L. Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation in the Abramson Cancer Center, and Noelle Frey, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Hematology Oncology, appeared on FOX29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” to discuss the approval of CAR T cell therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The therapy was developed by a team at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Additional coverage of the news continues worldwide.
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Advances in Cancer Treatment

Advances in Cancer Treatment

Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, director of the Abramson Cancer Center, and Stephan Grupp, MD, PhD, a professor of Pediatrics at Penn and director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program at CHOP, appeared on WHYY’s “Radio Times” to discuss the latest advances in cancer treatment.
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August 2017

How HIV became a Cancer Cure

How HIV became a Cancer Cure

The Wall Street Journal profiles Carl June, MD, a professor of Immunotherapy and director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Penn, and documents the journey of his CAR T cell therapy research, which is now on the verge of possible approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
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Cancer Genetics Expert Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, Named Deputy Director of Abramson Cancer Center

Cancer Genetics Expert Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, Named Deputy Director of Abramson Cancer Center

Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, an internationally recognized expert in the field of cancer genetics, has been named deputy director of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
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Penn Cancer Research Called

Penn Cancer Research Called "Newest Miracle Cure"

An article in Philadelphia magazine investigates CAR T cell therapy and the efforts of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to get the treatment approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
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Studying mosquitoes with west nile virus, how to stop it from spreakding

Studying mosquitoes with west nile virus, how to stop it from spreakding

Sara Cherry, PhD, a professor of Microbiology, discusses research on mosquito-borne diseases in light of a local increase in West Nile Virus found in area mosquito monitoring.
News Clip


This beast kills at least 500,000 people a year; a Penn scientist is trying to stop it

This beast kills at least 500,000 people a year; a Penn scientist is trying to stop it

For as long as humans have shared the planet with mosquitoes, the goal has been to get rid of the winged pests, or at least keep them at bay. Drain the swamp. Spray the landscape. Put up screens and netting. And if all else fails — thwack!

Biologist Michael Povelones has a far more sophisticated, if subtle, approach in mind: Boosting the insects' immune system.
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July 2017

Cancer cells force normal cells to mimic viruses to help tumors spread, resist treatment

Cancer cells force normal cells to mimic viruses to help tumors spread, resist treatment

In a study that could explain why some breast cancers are more aggressive than others, researchers say they now understand how cancer cells force normal cells to act like viruses, allowing tumors to grow, resist treatment, and spread. The study was led by Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology. 
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Cancer stem cells target of new grant to UCSD scientists

Cancer stem cells target of new grant to UCSD scientists

An article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about new immunotherapy research efforts in California mentions pioneering CAR T cell research led by Carl June, MD, director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies.
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One big cancer breakthrough is likely on the way to patients. Here's what may be coming next

One big cancer breakthrough is likely on the way to patients. Here's what may be coming next

In a piece for STAT News, David Porter, MD, director of Blood & Marrow Transplantation in the ACC, discusses the “CAR T revolution” and the continuing development of personalized cellular therapies. The FDA is poised to formally approve the sale of CAR T therapy by Novartis, Penn’s collaborator to research and develop CTL019.
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Diabetes Causes Shift in Oral Microbiome That Fosters Periodontitis, Penn Study Finds

Diabetes Causes Shift in Oral Microbiome That Fosters Periodontitis, Penn Study Finds

People with diabetes are susceptible to periodontitis, a gum infection that can result in tooth loss. New research led by Dana Graves of the School of Dental Medicine helps explain why: Diabetes triggers changes in the oral microbiome that enhance inflammation and the risk of bone loss.
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