George Prendergast, PhD, president and CEO of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), gave a talk at the symposium on Translational Immunology – From Target to Therapy IV, held at the University Hospital of Wurzburg, Germany, on Friday, May 5 where he outlined several recent discoveries and developments related to IDO inhibitors for cancer therapy.
Researchers, including those at LIMR, uncovered in recent years that the enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO1) drives about half of all human cancers by shielding the growing tumor from the body’s natural immune attackers. Dr. Prendergast and his team began searching more than 10 years ago for drug-like compounds that would suppress the IDO1 enzyme as a strategy to restore the immune system’s attack of cancer cells.
“Our work led to the discovery of the first IDO1 inhibitors and the demonstration in preclinical studies of their ability to greatly empower the efficacy of many types of cancer therapy,” said Dr. Prendergast. “Our studies also showed how animals lacking the IDO1 gene were resistant to the development and progression of induced cancers.”
Building upon this foundation, several companies are now testing these and other IDO1-inhibitory drugs in cancer clinical trials to determine their effectiveness in treating melanomas, lung, breast and other cancers, and early results are promising, said Dr. Prendergast.
The Wurzburg site has special meaning for Lankenau: the University Hospital of Wurzburg was where the first X-ray machine was developed, and it was through connections to the scientists and physicians there that the German Hospital of the City of Philadelphia — now known as Lankenau Medical Center — was able to introduce the first X-ray machine in Philadelphia in 1896.