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CTSI KL2 Awardee Among Team to Develop Virus-mimicking Drug That Targets Cancer Cells



UCLA CTSI News Archive


Drs. Anusha Kalbasi and Antoni Ribas.

CTSI KL2 Awardee, Dr. Anusha Kalbasi, is the lead and corresponding author on findings that have identified a drug that activates the body’s natural defenses by behaving like a virus may also make certain stealthy melanoma tumors visible to the immune system, allowing them to be better targeted by immunotherapy.

The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, open up the possibility of using drugs that mimic viruses to overcome immunotherapy resistance in tumors with defective interferon signaling and help create more personalized therapies for people with hard-to-treat cancers.

Read the full UCLA press release.

Kalbasi is also leading a human clinical trial of the combination therapy of nivolumab, an immune checkpoint blockade drug, and BO-112 in people with certain types of sarcoma who are undergoing radiation followed by surgery. The idea is to activate the immune system against the patient’s tumor while the tumor is still in the body.

The research is a collaboration with colleagues at Highlight Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Spain that has developed and tested BO-112 in early-phase clinical trials in Europe. The work was also supported in part by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and the National Institutes of Health.