Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D.
M.D. – New York Medical College
The Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Professor of Oncology
Deputy Director, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
Co-Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program
4M07 Bunting Blaustein Cancer Research Building
1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21287
Keywords: tumor immunology, T cell biology, tumor micro-environment, cancer vaccines
Current areas of research are focused on understanding the pancreatic cancer tumor micro-environment and the inflammation that helps shape the tumor micro-environment early, beginning with the pre-malignant changes that are linked to the driver gene changes known to initiate pancreatic cancers (mutated Kras and p53). We developed a neo-adjuvant immunotherapy platform that has provided new insights into pancreatic cancer and the immune system. Working with a team of surgeons, medical oncologist, and pathologists, we have demonstrated for the first time that we can convert pancreatic cancer from a non-immunogenic and suppressive immune environment, into an immune permissive environment by vaccinating with our whole tumor cell approach just 2 weeks before surgical resection of the cancer. We have identified the influx of tertiary lymphoid aggregates that are regulatory units that attract and activate effector T cells. In many cases, this influx of T cells results in an adaptive resistance response, upregulating checkpoint signals such as PD-L1. We have also developed a multiplex IHC platform that has allowed us to characterize the inflammatory responses based on multiple monocyte and T cell signaling pathways. Ongoing clinical studies are evaluating this vaccine with multiple checkpoints including CTLA-4 and PD-1, in the neoadjuvant and adjuvant setting. We have already reported for the first time as “proof of principle” that a vaccine given with the anti-CTLA-4 antibody can induce regressions in metastases in patients who have failed chemotherapy. We also reported a “proof of principle” murine study demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to prevent a non-viral cancer by targeting the driver gene (mutated kras) if the early procarcinogenic signals in premalignant lesions are also modulated. Taken together, my team’s work is driving the discovery of pancreatic cancer immunobiology, and these findings are quickly being translated into immunotherapies that are showing promise for this previously immune resistant cancer.
Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer Clinical Research and Care
Profile: Publications and Interests