MRA/ACS Jointly Funded Awards Addressing Adverse Events Related to Checkpoint Immunotherapy

Immunotherapies have played a critical role in advancing melanoma treatment and melanoma has also served as the proving ground for immunotherapy. Checkpoint immunotherapies, while first approved in melanoma, are now being used to treat many more cancers. While these treatments are well-tolerated by most, some experience life-altering and occasionally life threatening adverse events. In recognition of the immense potential of checkpoint immunotherapies in combating multiple cancers, and the reality that immune-related adverse events pose a challenge that must be addressed, MRA and ACS issued a joint Request for Proposals in summer of 2017 inviting applications for both Team Science (up to $1 million over 3 years) and Pilot Awards (up to $200,000 over 2 years) focused on the prevention, reduction, and/or management of life-altering and/or outcome limiting side-effects of checkpoint inhibitor therapy. As a result, the following awards were issued in 2018:

Genetic and phenotypic biomarkers to predict immune-related adverse events: Will enroll and analyze patients with melanoma and other cancers undergoing immunotherapy to determine if latent autoimmunity increases the risk of immune-related adverse events.

MRA-ACS Team Science Award

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

  • David Gerber, M.D.
  • Edward Wakeland, Ph.D.
  • Quan-Zhen Li, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Yang Xie, Ph.D., MPH
  • Jade Homsi, M.D.

Discovery of therapeutic approaches for ipilimumab-associated colitis: Will conduct a clinical trial to study two separate treatment options, and determine the best treatment for preserving the anti-tumor immune response, in melanoma patients who experience ipilimumab-associated colitis.

MRA-ACS Team Science Award

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

  • Kai Wucherpfennig, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Guo-Cheng, Ph.D.

Understanding cutaneous immunotherapy-related adverse events in melanoma: Aims to better understand the skin reactions that sometimes occur during immunotherapy, and potentially reveal a way for clinicians to intervene earlier so patients do not discontinue or delay therapy.

MRA-ACS Pilot Award

  • Suephy Chen, M.D., Emory University

Clinical features and biomarkers of immunotherapy neurologic toxicity: Seeks to better characterize, predict and determine the causes of neurological toxicities that occur in response to checkpoint immunotherapy.

MRA-ACS Pilot Award

  • Bianca Santomasso, M.D., Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute

Development of OncoLink: A web-based irAE monitoring platform: Will determine if an evidence-based, online monitoring program can improve the care of cancer patients by offering ways to better manage the side effects of immunotherapy.

MRA-ACS Pilot Award

  • Betina Yanez, Ph.D., Northwestern University