Instructor, Medicine - Oncology
Honors & Awards
Summer scholarship for excellence, HUJI (2003)
Noah Lihtenstein prize, HUJI (2009)
Travel grant for the 14th international congress of immunology in Kobe, Japan, ICI (2010)
Travel grant for the 3rd German-Israeli Cancer Research School in Pichl, Austria., DKFZ (2010)
Maydan foundation scholarship for excellence in PhD studies, Maydan foundation (2010-2012)
Kaye innovation award, Isaac Kaye foundation (2012)
Winning poster, Stanford University Medicine/Oncology (2013)
Abstract achievement award, American Society of Hematology (2015)
Abstract achievement award, ASH meeting on Lymphoma biology (2016)
Scholar-in-Training Award, American Association for Cancer Research (2016)
The Henzl-Gabor Travel Grant, Stanford University (2016)
Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation Cancer Immunology Symposium- attendee, The Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, CRI (2020)
Fellow to Faculty Scholar award, American Society of Hematology (2020-2022)
Ph.D, Hebrew University Of Jerusalem, Biochemistry, immunology (2012)
Idit Sagiv Barfi, Ronald Levy, Betty Chang, Patrick Ng, Kohrt Holbrook. "United States Patent 12016500743A1 Treatment using bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitors and immunotherapy", Pharmacyclics, Inc., The Board Of Trustees Of The Leland Stanford Junior University
Idit Sagiv Barfi, Alexander Levitzki. "United States Patent 8,759,363 Quinazoline Based T Cell Proliferation Inhibitors", The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Supporting the next generation of scientists to lead cancer immunology research.
Cancer immunology research
Recent success in the use of immunotherapy for a broad range of cancers has propelled the field of cancer immunology to the forefront of cancer research. As more and more young investigators join the community of cancer immunologists, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation Cancer Immunology Symposium provided a platform to bring this expanding and vibrant community together and support the development of the future leaders in the field. This Commentary article outlines the lessons that emerged from the inaugural symposium highlighting the areas of scientific and career development that are essential for professional growth in the field of cancer immunology and beyond. Leading scientists and clinicians in the field provided their experience on the topics of scientific trajectory, career trajectory, publishing, fundraising, leadership, mentoring, and collaboration. Herein, we provide a conceptual and practical framework for career development to the broader scientific community.
View details for DOI 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-21-0519
View details for PubMedID 34544686
An mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Employing Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters with a TLR-9 Agonist Induces Neutralizing Antibodies and T Cell Memory.
ACS central science
2021; 7 (7): 1191-1204
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has necessitated the rapid development of prophylactic vaccines. Two mRNA vaccines have been approved for emergency use by the FDA and have demonstrated extraordinary effectiveness. The success of these mRNA vaccines establishes the speed of development and therapeutic potential of mRNA. These authorized vaccines encode full-length versions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. They are formulated with lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery vehicles that have inherent immunostimulatory properties. Different vaccination strategies and alternative mRNA delivery vehicles would be desirable to ensure flexibility of future generations of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and the development of mRNA vaccines in general. Here, we report on the development of an alternative mRNA vaccine approach using a delivery vehicle called charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs). Using these inherently nonimmunogenic vehicles, we can tailor the vaccine immunogenicity by inclusion of coformulated adjuvants such as oligodeoxynucleotides with CpG motifs (CpG-ODN). Mice vaccinated with the mRNA-CART vaccine developed therapeutically relevant levels of receptor binding domain (RBD)-specific neutralizing antibodies in both the circulation and in the lung bronchial fluids. In addition, vaccination elicited strong and long-lasting RBD-specific TH1 T cell responses including CD4+ and CD8+ T cell memory.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acscentsci.1c00361
View details for PubMedID 34341771
Systemic delivery of a targeted synthetic immunostimulant transforms the immune landscape for effective tumor regression.
Cell chemical biology
Promoting immune activation within the tumor microenvironment (TME) is a promising therapeutic strategy to reverse tumor immunosuppression and elicit anti-tumor immunity. To enable tumor-localized immunotherapy following intravenous administration, we chemically conjugated a polyspecific integrin-binding peptide (PIP) to an immunostimulant (Toll-like receptor 9 [TLR9] agonist: CpG) to generate a tumor-targeted immunomodulatory agent, referred to as PIP-CpG. We demonstrate that systemic delivery of PIP-CpG induces tumor regression and enhances therapeutic efficacy compared with untargeted CpG in aggressive murine breast and pancreatic cancer models. Furthermore, PIP-CpG transforms the immune-suppressive TME dominated by myeloid-derived suppressor cells into a lymphocyte-rich TME infiltrated with activated CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, and B cells. Finally, we show that T cells are required for therapeutic efficacy and that PIP-CpG treatment generates tumor-specific CD8+ T cells. These data demonstrate that conjugation to a synthetic tumor-targeted peptide can improve the efficacy of systemically administered immunostimulants and lead to durable anti-tumor immune responses.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.10.012
View details for PubMedID 34774126
Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy for Solid Tumors
ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2020: S275
View details for Web of Science ID 000582792300508
- Neoadjuvant immunotherapy for solid tumors AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2020
- Positron emission tomography imaging of activated T cells by targeting OX40 reveals spatiotemporal immune dynamics and predicts response to in situ tumor vaccination AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2018
S101, an Inhibitor of Proliferating T Cells, Rescues Mice From Superantigen-Induced Shock
JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES
2018; 217 (2): 288–97
Superantigens (SAgs) are extremely potent bacterial toxins, which evoke a virulent immune response, inducing nonspecific T-cell proliferation, rapid cytokine release, and lethal toxic shock, for which there is no effective treatment. We previously developed a small molecule, S101, which potently inhibits proliferating T cells. In a severe mouse model of toxic shock, a single injection of S101 given together with superantigen challenge rescued 100% of the mice. Even when given 2 hours after challenge, S101 rescued 40% of the mice. S101 targets the T-cell receptor, inflammatory response, and actin cytoskeleton pathways. S101 inhibits the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, a ligand-activated transcription factor that is involved in the differentiation of T-helper cells, especially Th17, and regulatory T cells. Our results provide the rationale for developing S101 to treat superantigen-induced toxic shock and other pathologies characterized by T-cell activation and proliferation.
View details for DOI 10.1093/infdis/jix576
View details for Web of Science ID 000419613300017
View details for PubMedID 29149330
Eradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy.
SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE
2018; 10 (426)
View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4488
Eradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy.
Science translational medicine
2018; 10 (426)
It has recently become apparent that the immune system can cure cancer. In some of these strategies, the antigen targets are preidentified and therapies are custom-made against these targets. In others, antibodies are used to remove the brakes of the immune system, allowing preexisting T cells to attack cancer cells. We have used another noncustomized approach called in situ vaccination. Immunoenhancing agents are injected locally into one site of tumor, thereby triggering a T cell immune response locally that then attacks cancer throughout the body. We have used a screening strategy in which the same syngeneic tumor is implanted at two separate sites in the body. One tumor is then injected with the test agents, and the resulting immune response is detected by the regression of the distant, untreated tumor. Using this assay, the combination of unmethylated CG-enriched oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG)-a Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) ligand-and anti-OX40 antibody provided the most impressive results. TLRs are components of the innate immune system that recognize molecular patterns on pathogens. Low doses of CpG injected into a tumor induce the expression of OX40 on CD4+ T cells in the microenvironment in mouse or human tumors. An agonistic anti-OX40 antibody can then trigger a T cell immune response, which is specific to the antigens of the injected tumor. Remarkably, this combination of a TLR ligand and an anti-OX40 antibody can cure multiple types of cancer and prevent spontaneous genetically driven cancers.
View details for PubMedID 29386357
Imaging activated T cells predicts response to cancer vaccines.
The Journal of clinical investigation
In situ cancer vaccines are under active clinical investigation, given their reported ability to eradicate both local and disseminated malignancies. Intratumoral vaccine administration is thought to activate a T cell-mediated immune response, which begins in the treated tumor and cascades systemically. In this study, we describe a PET tracer (64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40) that enabled noninvasive and longitudinal imaging of OX40, a cell-surface marker of T cell activation. We report the spatiotemporal dynamics of T cell activation following in situ vaccination with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide in a dual tumor-bearing mouse model. We demonstrate that OX40 imaging was able to predict tumor responses on day 9 after treatment on the basis of tumor tracer uptake on day 2, with greater accuracy than both anatomical and blood-based measurements. These studies provide key insights into global T cell activation following local CpG treatment and indicate that 64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40 is a promising candidate for monitoring clinical cancer immunotherapy strategies.
View details for PubMedID 29596062
Autologous iPSC-Based Vaccines Elicit Anti-tumor Responses In Vivo.
Cell stem cell
Cancer cells and embryonic tissues share a number of cellular and molecular properties, suggesting that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may be harnessed to elicit anti-tumor responses in cancer vaccines. RNA sequencing revealed that human and murine iPSCs express tumor-associated antigens, and we show here a proof of principle for using irradiated iPSCs in autologous anti-tumor vaccines. In a prophylactic setting, iPSC vaccines prevent tumor growth in syngeneic murine breast cancer, mesothelioma, and melanoma models. As an adjuvant, the iPSC vaccine inhibited melanoma recurrence at the resection site and reduced metastatic tumor load, which was associated with fewer Th17 cells and increased CD11b+GR1himyeloid cells. Adoptive transfer of T cells isolated from vaccine-treated tumor-bearing mice inhibited tumor growth in unvaccinated recipients, indicating that the iPSC vaccine promotes an antigen-specific anti-tumor T cell response. Our data suggest an easy, generalizable strategy for multiple types of cancer that could prove highly valuable in clinical immunotherapy.
View details for PubMedID 29456158
- Holbrook Kohrt: In Memoriam (1977-2016). Clinical cancer research 2016; 22 (14): 3695-3696
Ibrutinib enhances the antitumor immune response induced by intratumoral injection of a TLR9 ligand in mouse lymphoma.
2015; 125 (13): 2079-2086
We have designed a novel therapeutic approach for lymphoma that combines targeted kinase inhibition with in situ vaccination. Intratumoral injection of an unmethylated cytosine guanine dinucleotide (CpG)-enriched oligodeoxynucleotide, an agonist for the toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), induces the activation of natural killer cells, macrophages, and antigen presenting cells that control tumor growth at the local site. Ibrutinib, an irreversible inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase, a key enzyme in the signaling pathway downstream of B-cell receptor, is an effective treatment against many types of B-cell lymphomas. The combination of intratumoral injection of CpG with systemic treatment by ibrutinib resulted in eradication of the tumors not only in the injected site, but also at distant sites. Surprisingly, this combinatorial antitumor effect required an intact T-cell immune system since it did not occur in nude, severe combined immunodeficiency, or T-cell depleted mice. Moreover, T cells from animals treated with intratumoral CpG and ibrutinib prevented the outgrowth of newly injected tumors. This result suggests that ibrutinib can induce immunogenic cell death of lymphoma cells and that concomitant stimulation of antigen-presenting cells in the tumor microenvironment by toll-like receptor ligands can lead to a powerful systemic antitumor immune response.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2014-08-593137
View details for PubMedID 25662332
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4375105
- Therapeutic antitumor immunity by checkpoint blockade is enhanced by ibrutinib, an inhibitor of both BTK and ITK. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2015; 112 (9): E966-72
Therapeutic antitumor immunity by checkpoint blockade is enhanced by ibrutinib, an inhibitor of both BTK and ITK.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2015; 112 (9): E966-72
Monoclonal antibodies can block cellular interactions that negatively regulate T-cell immune responses, such as CD80/CTLA-4 and PD-1/PD1-L, amplifying preexisting immunity and thereby evoking antitumor immune responses. Ibrutinib, an approved therapy for B-cell malignancies, is a covalent inhibitor of BTK, a member of the B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling pathway, which is critical to the survival of malignant B cells. Interestingly this drug also inhibits ITK, an essential enzyme in Th2 T cells and by doing so it can shift the balance between Th1 and Th2 T cells and potentially enhance antitumor immune responses. Here we report that the combination of anti-PD-L1 antibody and ibrutinib suppresses tumor growth in mouse models of lymphoma that are intrinsically insensitive to ibrutinib. The combined effect of these two agents was also documented for models of solid tumors, such as triple negative breast cancer and colon cancer. The enhanced therapeutic activity of PD-L1 blockade by ibrutinib was accompanied by enhanced antitumor T-cell immune responses. These preclinical results suggest that the combination of PD1/PD1-L blockade and ibrutinib should be tested in the clinic for the therapy not only of lymphoma but also in other hematologic malignancies and solid tumors that do not even express BTK.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1500712112
View details for PubMedID 25730880
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4352777
- Radiotherapy and Toll-Like Receptor Agonists SEMINARS IN RADIATION ONCOLOGY 2015; 25 (1): 34-39
Radiotherapy and toll-like receptor agonists.
Seminars in radiation oncology
2015; 25 (1): 34-39
The clinical successes of CTLA4 and PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade in aggressive malignancies such as metastatic melanoma and non-small cell lung carcinoma inaugurate a new era in oncology. Indeed, as opposed to tumor-targeted therapies, it is now clear that immune-targeted therapies designed to enhance the antitumor immune response are a relevant strategy to obtain long-term tumor responses. Interestingly, the study of tumor cell death biology has recently revealed that part of radiotherapy efficacy relies on its ability to trigger an immune response against tumor cells. This "immunogenic cell death" partly relies on the generation of damage-associated molecular patterns, which can stimulate immune sensors such as toll-like receptors. Tumor radiation therapy can therefore be envisioned as a strategy to perform an in situ immunization because it can initiate the release of tumor-associated antigens, deplete immune suppressors, and stimulate antigen-presenting cells via endogenous release of toll-like receptor agonists. Moreover, combinations of radiotherapy with immune checkpoint antibodies are synergistic in preclinical models. The translation of these observations in the clinic is ongoing in early phase I/II trials.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.semradonc.2014.07.006
View details for PubMedID 25481264
Targeting CD137 enhances the efficacy of cetuximab.
journal of clinical investigation
2014; 124 (6): 2668-2682
Treatment with cetuximab, an EGFR-targeting IgG1 mAb, results in beneficial, yet limited, clinical improvement for patients with head and neck (HN) cancer as well as colorectal cancer (CRC) patients with WT KRAS tumors. Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) by NK cells contributes to the efficacy of cetuximab. The costimulatory molecule CD137 (4-1BB) is expressed following NK and memory T cell activation. We found that isolated human NK cells substantially increased expression of CD137 when exposed to cetuximab-coated, EGFR-expressing HN and CRC cell lines. Furthermore, activation of CD137 with an agonistic mAb enhanced NK cell degranulation and cytotoxicity. In multiple murine xenograft models, including EGFR-expressing cancer cells, HN cells, and KRAS-WT and KRAS-mutant CRC, combined cetuximab and anti-CD137 mAb administration was synergistic and led to complete tumor resolution and prolonged survival, which was dependent on the presence of NK cells. In patients receiving cetuximab, the level of CD137 on circulating and intratumoral NK cells was dependent on postcetuximab time and host FcyRIIIa polymorphism. Interestingly, the increase in CD137-expressing NK cells directly correlated to an increase in EGFR-specific CD8+ T cells. These results support development of a sequential antibody approach against EGFR-expressing malignancies that first targets the tumor and then the host immune system.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI73014
View details for PubMedID 24837434
- Ibrutinib antagonizes rituximab-dependent NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Blood 2014; 123 (12): 1957-1960
Anti-KIR antibody enhancement of anti-lymphoma activity of natural killer cells as monotherapy and in combination with anti-CD20 antibodies.
2014; 123 (5): 678-686
Natural killer (NK) cells mediate anti-lymphoma activity by spontaneous cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) when triggered by rituximab, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (mAb) used to treat patients with B cell lymphomas. The balance of inhibitory and activating signals determines the magnitude of NK cell's efficacy by spontaneous cytoxicity. Here, using a killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) transgenic murine model, we show that blockade of the interface of inhibitory KIRs with MHC class I antigens on lymphoma by anti-KIR antibodies prevents a tolerogenic interaction and augments NK cell spontaneous cytotoxicity. In combination with anti-CD20 mAbs, anti-KIR treatment induces enhanced NK cell-mediated, rituximab-dependent cytotoxicity against lymphoma in vitro and in vivo in KIR transgenic and syngeneic murine lymphoma models. These results support a therapeutic strategy of combination, rituximab and KIR blockade through lirilumab, illustrating the potential efficacy of combining a tumor targeting therapy with an NK cell agonist thus stimulating the post-rituximab anti-lymphoma immune response.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2013-08-519199
View details for PubMedID 24326534
Depleting tumor-specific Tregs at a single site eradicates disseminated tumors
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION
2013; 123 (6): 2447-2463
Activation of TLR9 by direct injection of unmethylated CpG nucleotides into a tumor can induce a therapeutic immune response; however, Tregs eventually inhibit the antitumor immune response and thereby limit the power of cancer immunotherapies. In tumor-bearing mice, we found that Tregs within the tumor preferentially express the cell surface markers CTLA-4 and OX40. We show that intratumoral coinjection of anti-CTLA-4 and anti-OX40 together with CpG depleted tumor-infiltrating Tregs. This in situ immunomodulation, which was performed with low doses of antibodies in a single tumor, generated a systemic antitumor immune response that eradicated disseminated disease in mice. Further, this treatment modality was effective against established CNS lymphoma with leptomeningeal metastases, sites that are usually considered to be tumor cell sanctuaries in the context of conventional systemic therapy. These results demonstrate that antitumor immune effectors elicited by local immunomodulation can eradicate tumor cells at distant sites. We propose that, rather than using mAbs to target cancer cells systemically, mAbs could be used to target the tumor infiltrative immune cells locally, thereby eliciting a systemic immune response.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI64859
View details for Web of Science ID 000320093100018
View details for PubMedID 23728179
Selective elimination of alloreactivity in vitro and in vivo while sparing other T-cell-mediated immune responses
BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTATION
2012; 47 (6): 838-845
Selective elimination of alloreactive cells was carried out in the set-up of T-cell-mediated immunotherapy in an effort to gain the benefits of hematopoietic allogeneic transplantation while reducing the risk of GVHD. Low MW chemical compounds were screened for their effect on T-cell-mediated immune responses of murine- and human-derived lymphocytes. Selected compounds were further tested in secondary MLR assays in which sensitization to alloantigens was carried out in vitro, in the presence or absence of a given compound, followed by exposure to related and unrelated alloantigens or T-cell mitogenic stimulation. At a low concentration of <1 μM, a quinazoline derivative named AO#349 [2-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)-N-p-tolylquinazolin-4-amine], was able to induce 78-90% inhibition of a selective allogeneic response while retaining >92% immune reactivity to unrelated alloantigens and mitogenic stimuli in vitro. Following allogeneic sensitization in the presence of AO#349, elimination of alloreactivity to the priming alloantigens was also proved in a murine model of GVHD: 10 out of 15 sub-lethally irradiated mice inoculated with these sensitized cells were GVHD-free for >200 days. AO#349 was efficient in induction of a selective elimination of alloreactivity and should be considered for clinical application in allogeneic cell-mediated immunotherapy.
View details for DOI 10.1038/bmt.2011.198
View details for Web of Science ID 000305276200011
View details for PubMedID 22020024
Design, synthesis, and evaluation of quinazoline T cell proliferation inhibitors
BIOORGANIC & MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY
2010; 18 (17): 6404-6413
We report here on a class of quinazoline molecules that inhibit T cell proliferation. The most potent compound N-p-tolyl-2-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)quinazolin-4-amine (S101) and its close analogs were found to inhibit the proliferation of T cells from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and Jurkat cells, with IC(50) in the sub-micromolar range. The inhibitor induced G2 cell cycle arrest but did not inhibit IL-2 secretion. The anti-proliferative effect correlated with inhibition of the tyrosine phosphorylation of SLP-76, a molecular element in the signaling pathway of the T cell receptor (TCR). The inhibitor restrained proliferation of lymphocytes with much higher potency than non-hematopoietic cells. This new class of specific T cell proliferation inhibitors may serve as lead molecules for the development of agents aimed at diseases in which T cell signaling plays a role and agents to induce tolerance to grafted tissues or organs.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bmc.2010.07.004
View details for Web of Science ID 000281203300022
View details for PubMedID 20674367
A color discriminating broad range cell staining technology for early detection of cell transformation.
Journal of carcinogenesis
2009; 8: 16-?
Background: Advanced diagnostic tools stand today at the heart of successful cancer treatment. CellDetect(R) is a new histochemical staining technology that enables color discrimination between normal cells and a wide variety of neoplastic tissues. Using this technology, normal cells are colored blue/green, while neoplastic cells color red. This tinctorial difference coincides with clear morphological visualization properties, mainly in tissue samples. Here we show that the CellDetect(R) technology can be deployed to distinguish normal cells from transformed cells and most significantly detect cells in their early pre-cancerous transformed state. Materials and Methods: In tissue culture, we studied the ability of the CellDetect(R) technology to color discriminate foci in a number of two stage transformation systems as well as in a well defined cellular model for cervical cancer development, using HPV16 transformed keratinocytes. Results: In all these cellular systems, the CellDetect(R) technology was able to sensitively show that all transformed cells, including pre-cancerous HPV 16 transformed cells, are colored red, whereas normal cells are colored blue/green. The staining technology was able to pick up: (i) early transformation events in the form of small type 1 foci (non-invasive, not piled up small, with parallel alignment of cells), and (ii) early HPV16 transformed cells, even prior to their ability to form colonies in soft agar. The study shows the utility of the CellDetect(R) technology in early detection of transformation events.
View details for DOI 10.4103/1477-3163.58372
View details for PubMedID 20023366