Today I am proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Holbrook Kohrt to OncoSec’s Scientific Advisory Board. Holbrook is a brilliant physician and researcher with extensive knowledge in tumor immunology and clinical trial design.

He has an M.D. and 2 Ph.D.’s from Stanford University, where he currently researches novel therapeutic strategies to enhance anti-tumor immunity. Specifically, Dr. Kohrt is interested in augmenting antibody therapy for treating cancer by identifying and developing immunomodulatory antibodies targeting immune effector cells subsets, such as natural killer cells, which enhance the anti-tumor activity of tumor-targeting antibodies.

Today’s cancer immunotherapy is driven by monoclonal antibodies; it primarily targets the quantity and quality of immune effector cells

Driving a successful tumor-killing immune response is analogous to driving a car where one would seek to “fill the gas tank” with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), take a “foot off the brake” with the inhibition of immune checkpoints, and put a “foot on the gas” via co-stimulatory activation. Older immunotherapy treatment options like interleukin-2 (Proleukin) and interferon-alpha (PEG- Intron/Intron A) focused on non-selective T cell priming, via stimulating expansion and maturation of T cells. Current targets (PD1/L1, CTLA4) focus on inhibiting checkpoint activation with targeted monoclonal antibodies. These monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) bind to cell ligands and receptors, interfere with checkpoint activation, and suppress inhibitory feedback loops.

ImmunoPulse may reverse the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment directly with local intralesional therapy, using potent pro-inflammatory molecules, like IL-12.  Pre-clinical data, though preliminary, paint the picture that intratumoral electroporation of pIL-12 is driving a conversion from a low TIL to a high TIL phenotype, and supports our rationale for a combination approach with an anti-PD-1 (or, anti-PD-L1) mAb.

Rapidly emerging data suggest that the promise of immunotherapy can and likely will be expanded to a much broader range of tumors with the introduction of new checkpoint and co-stimulatory targets, as well as a wide range of immunotherapy combinations. Restoring appropriate function of the cancer-immunity cycle holds the promise of either holding cancer in check or “curing” a patient of disease.

Through his work at Stanford, Holbrook has established himself as an academic leader in intratumoral immuno-oncology. We are thrilled to have his guidance and expertise during this transformational moment, where technologies like those being advanced by the OncoSec team have the potential to fundamentally impact the cancer treatment landscape. The ultimate goal of all cancer treatment is to “lift the curve” of survival with complete responses (CRs) where treatment can be successfully discontinued, responses are ongoing, and the patient is essentially cured. Thanks to the work of researchers like Dr. Kohrt, emerging immunotherapies may make this goal a reality for many patients in the future.