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Making Real and Measureable Progress with Immunotherapy

--This blog post celebrates the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

When we launched the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy last March, we committed to accelerate the progress of immunotherapies in a real and measurable way, taking advantage of its ability to produce unprecedented and durable cancer regressions. We also committed to developing “out-of-the-box” approaches that empower patients’ own immune systems to beat their cancer.

The success of immunotherapy in many cancer types now demonstrates that the immune system contains the power to vanquish virtually any cancer. The Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute has set itself apart, not just by advancing this concept through discovery but by moving beyond theory to translate these scientific discoveries into advances in the clinic and applying these advances to the treatment of patients. New technologies being developed in the Institute allow us to study immune responses in patients in ways that were unimaginable just five years ago.

It has meant the difference between life and death for a growing number of cancer patients, and it is the foundation of many new advances in cancer immunotherapy.

This progress and its impact are well-documented in publications in leading journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine; FDA approvals of new immunotherapies; high impact collaborations and technology licensing agreements with biotech and pharmaceutical companies; and changes in the standards of cancer care. Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute clinicians and scientists have been recognized with the highest honors in the field, and the best and brightest young American and international physicians want to come here to continue their education and training.

The Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute stands out from other efforts because of its broad expertise and the foundational support that gives its experts the freedom to explore novel ideas and quickly move advances from the laboratory to the clinic. Progress flourishes in a collaborative environment that includes leading experts in essentially every field necessary to develop cancer immunotherapies and bring them to patients.

We are set up to take action, and this is evidenced in the headway made since the Institute was launched. Multiple initiatives have started that promise to bring major near-term and long-term payoffs. The energy is palpable. The number of clinical trials has exploded, side effects are now better understood and managed, research has revealed more ways cancer cells disrupt immune attacks, predictive markers of response to guide therapy have been identified, and immunology has been integrated into virtually every medical discipline, department and school at Johns Hopkins—even regenerative medicine.

Faculty members from all departments and schools at Johns Hopkins are collaborating with the Institute. Most importantly, lives are being saved.

I believe all cancer patients have an immune system capable of killing cancer cells. Our challenge is to make the immune system active against all cancers. Our experts continue to unravel the biology of the immune system and the cancer cell to make all cancers visible to the immune system and develop immunotherapies that destroy them.

Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins