I am a hematologist/oncologist whose primary interest is in non-malignant hematology as well as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplasia, and myeloproliferative disorders. My current research focus is on immune system manipulations for therapeutic effects in patients with relapsed and refractory blood cancers.
My current project focuses on awakening a patient's own immune system cells to recognize and target their blood cancer. This project is termed "Cellular Immunotherapy for Refractory Hematological Malignancies". The central aspect of this project is a clinical trial in which white blood cells taken from a relative are transfused into patient's with leukemia or lymphoma that has not responded to traditional therapies.
The use of the immune system to treat patients with blood cancers has been studied extensively. One of the primary modalities of immunotherapy for leukemia and lymphoma is allogeneic stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, many patients are unable to tolerate a stem cell transplant because of the toxicity of the therapy in the form of pre-conditioning chemotherapy regimens and risk of graft versus host disease. Previous studies have shown durable responses to T cell infusions in patients with relapsed and refractory hematological malignancies. In these patients the donor cells were rejected by the patient's own immune system thereby reducing the risk of graft versus host disease. Furthermore, it also obviates the need for pre-conditioning chemotherapy as donor cell engraftment is not needed. During this rejection phenomenon, the patients developed a complex cytokine storm that, we believe, was essential for the therapeutic response. In our clinical trial, the primary goal is to treat the blood cancer with donor T cell infusions while a secondary aim is to determine what is the underlying mechanism of action of response. I work closely with an immunologist, Dr. Loren Fast, to determine which cells within the patient's body are being activated by the donor T cell infusion and are therefore responsible for the clinical effect.
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Special Fellow in Clinical Research Career Development Award, $195,0000, 7/1/2013
Center of Biomedical Research Excellence at Rhode Island Hospital, $50,000, 7/1/2013