Full Name: Ioannis Prassas
Academic Affiliation: Mount Sinai Hospital Advanced Center for Detection of Cancer (ACDC) Laboratory /University of Toronto
Abstract: The idea of harnessing the immune system to attack cancer is not new. However, it is only recently that advances in -omic technologies (genomics, proteomics) have allowed a systematic investigation of the true therapeutic potential of immunotherapies to eradicate cancers. The last 5 years, remarkable results of novel immunotherapies (mainly against melanoma) have created a huge enthusiasm for the development of more personalized immunotherapeutic strategies against a plethora of cancers. Our lab is focusing on the development of the first personalized cancer vaccines against bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is an aggressive disease with an estimated annual death rate of approx. 20,000 in the US alone. Existing therapeutic drugs display limited long-term therapeutic potential highlighting the need for the development of ‘smarter’ and more tailored therapies. Towards this goal, we combine next-generation sequencing technologies with proteomic platforms to identify mutated molecules (neoantigens) that are exclusively found in cancer cells and are able to activate the patient’s immune system. This knowledge can be used for the synthesis of neoantigen peptides that could be used to boost the immune reaction of individual patients undergoing common immunotherapies and lay the foundation for the development of personalized cancer vaccines.