Immunotherapy for Sarcoma Treatment – Dr. Antonia Digklia (CHUV) and Dr. Melita Irving (CHUV)

Date de publication


Project of Dr. Antonia Digklia, Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois, and Dr. Melita Irving, Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois.

This investment is intended to help the team establish the preliminary data that will provide background information required to pursue the use of next-generation CAR-T immunotherapy in the treatment of sarcoma. This project is built on strongly balanced contributions of Dr. Irving as a basic scientist with expertise in the generation of CAR-T cells, and Dr. Digklia as a clinician working in the sarcoma unit of CHUV. The team has obtained promising results in early phase I/II trials, suggesting that an inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase VEGFR (pazopanib) plus the anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor durvalumab may have tumor-arresting activity in soft tissue sarcoma. The team wants to combine such tyrosine kinase inhibition (TKI) with innovative CAR-T cell therapy to treat sarcoma. This is a challenging goal, but it is reasonable to test CAR-T cells as well as immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies. The scientists hope to use the erythropoietin-producing hepatoma type-A receptor-2 (EphA2), a cell surface marker specifically overexpressed in sarcoma, as a target for novel CAR-T cells. It is important that they compare patient biopsies before and after tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment to identify the most specific targets for CAR-T cell co-engineering. As most of the team’s preliminary data were produced using prostate cancer cells, the funding is also given so that they can accumulate data that confirms EphA2 expression in sarcoma before and after TKI treatment, thereby substantiating the idea to use this marker as a CAR-T cell target.