Damon Runyon Researchers

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Amaia Lujambio, PhD

Immunotherapy is revolutionizing the clinical management of a variety of cancers. Unprecedented complete responses have been observed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a type of liver cancer that shows little response to conventional therapeutic approaches. Unfortunately, the clinical efficacy of nivolumab (Opdivo), a novel immune checkpoint inhibitor, is limited to less than 20% of HCC patients. Understanding the determinants of sensitivity and resistance to nivolumab and developing strategies that overcome resistance are therefore urgently needed to significantly improve the clinical management of HCC patients. Dr. Lujambio will combine the use of a novel mouse model of liver cancer and samples from HCC patients treated with nivolumab to identify genes that are involved in intrinsic and acquired resistance to this therapy. These findings will be critical to define biomarkers to select the HCC patients that are most likely to benefit from this immunotherapy. Moreover, a better understanding of the mechanisms of resistance to nivolumab will help design strategies to overcome resistance, providing novel therapeutic options for resistant patients.

Project title: "Overcoming resistance to anti-PD1 immunotherapy in hepatocellular carcinoma"
Institution: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Award Program: Innovator
Cancer Type: Other Cancer
Research Area: Immunotherapy