The first patient at Mount Sinai to receive a personalized vaccine regimen to prevent cancer recurrence is showing evidence of immunity, indicating that the vaccine is in fact working as designed. Created from the patient’s tumor antigens, the vaccine was produced at The Tisch Cancer Institute (TCI) in conjunction with   J PT Peptide Technologies, GmbH  (JPT). 
TCI is the only center in New York City and the tri-state area with a state-of-the-art vaccine and cell therapy lab that is producing and testing the efficacy of these types of patient-specific vaccines for cancer.  Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD , Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, and Co-leader of the TCI Cancer Immunology Research Program, directs the lab and the highly-integrated immunotherapy program focused on harnessing the immune system against cancer. 
Dr. Bhardwaj collaborated closely on this first vaccine with  Eric M. Genden, MD ,  Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology, attending physician to the patient with head and neck cancer. 
Once a patient has been identified and deemed eligible—resected tumor specimens must be secured and the patient must have achieved remission from traditional therapies—creation of the vaccine takes two to three months. The specimens must be sequenced for genomic profiling within one hour of procurement—this is facilitated by specially trained nursing personnel, as well as proximity of the vaccine and cell therapy lab to the patient care clinics. JPT synthesizes a peptide vaccine based on the patient’s antigens, and ships the product back to the lab for final clean testing and formalization. The vaccine, prepared for injection immediately prior to administration, is given ten times over a six-month period. 
The vaccine therapy protocol is part of TCI’s  Novel Therapeutics Program , under the direction of  Matthew Galsky, MD . Based on the successful response of Dr. Genden’s patient—demonstrating that injecting a personalized vaccine into a patient whose cancer is under control can elicit an immune response—five more patients have been enrolled on the study, four with multiple myeloma and one with lung cancer. A new clinical trial for glioblastoma has been opened, and a similar study for bladder cancer will soon follow. Future plans include extension of treatment to patients with metastatic cancer by injecting tumors with personalized immune modulators that reverse cancer growth. 

In support of further developments, the Icahn School of Medicine has launched  OpenVax , a forward-thinking lab unique to Mount Sinai that develops open source tools for personalized cancer vaccines. Also, Mount Sinai is now part of the  Tumor Neoantigen Selection Alliance  (TESLA), a consortium comprising 30 research groups from academia and industry (e.g., Cancer Research Institute, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, California Institute of Technology, Genentech). TESLA promotes research on more precise identification of abnormal proteins in an individual’s tumor that can be used as immunotherapy targets. 
Upcoming Presentations by Dr. Bhardwaj:   Immunology 2018 , the annual meeting of  The American Association of Immunology , May 4-8, Co-chair for major symposium:  Developing More Effective Immunotherapies  
Chair of Microbiota, immune system and tumor progression 
Presentation: Targeting immune system: immunotherapy 
A story about a therapeutic vaccine that shrinks low-grade B-cell lymphoma tumors was part of a campaign to increase Mount Sinai’s rankings in U.S. News & World Report. Joshua Brody, MD , director of TCI’s Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program and the first researcher to treat lymphoma this way, says the purpose of the clinical trial is to determine if treating the affected lymph node will trigger responses in other tumor sites far removed from the original. The original illustration in the story is by Mount Sinai’s Jill Gregory .
James F. Holland, MD, legendary oncologist and celebrated member of the Mount Sinai community since 1973, passed away on March 22. Dr. Holland helped pioneer the use of combination chemotherapies for the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, transforming a disease considered incurable into one with an 80 percent survival rate.
Stephanie V. Blank, MD , has been named Director
of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science. She is also Fellowship Director for Gynecologic Oncology. 

Photo by Claudia Paul
Peter R. Dottino, MD , former gynecologic oncology director, has assumed the positions
of Vice-Chair of Clinical Affairs for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, and Executive Director of the  Women’s Center at Mount Sinai’s Downtown Chelsea Center
Recently Awarded R01 Grants

Targeting oncogenic Ras-MAPK signaling complexes via the scaffold KSR  

New R35  

Robert Fisher, MD, PhD , Professor of Oncological Sciences and Pharmacological Sciences, has been awarded R35 grant funding over a five-year period for research focused on understanding how signaling by cyclin-dependent kinases regulates and coordinates gene expression and cell proliferation. 

K22 Career Transition Awards   

Madhavika Niroshini Serasinghe, PhD,   was recently awarded a K22 grant for 
Other current K22 awards include: 

Foundation Award

David Dominguez-Sola, MD, PhD ,   was selected as a Medical Research Award grantee from   Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research . The award will support his research project:  MYC-dependent replication stress as a pathogenic driver and therapeutic target in aggressive B cell lymphomas. Dr. Dominguez-Sola is Assistant Professor of Oncological Sciences and Pathology. 
Annual Review of Cancer Biology   
“New research highlighted in this review continues to suggest that specific cues in the microenvironment are a sine qua non for dormancy onset. Additional insight continues to support a role of epigenetic regulation in the self-sustained nature of dormancy. How these mechanisms interact with genetics and immune regulation likely represents a next frontier in cancer dormancy research.”  
Nature Chemical Biology , PMID: 29355849 
“Through progressive synthetic refinement, we report a new class of 'tumor calibrated inhibitors' with unique polypharmacology and strongly improved therapeutic index in fly and human MTC xenograft models. This platform provides a rational approach to creating new high-efficacy and low-toxicity drugs.” 
JAMA Oncology , PMID: 29522138 
John O. Mascarenhas, MD,   and  Ronald Hoffman, MD,    report on a pivotal study that may ultimately lead to the approval of a novel therapy for myelofibrosis. 

Journal of Clinical Oncology , PMID: 29489433 
Analysis of 42,765 patients in the National Cancer Database with high-risk, clinically localized prostate cancer showed no statistical difference in survival between patients treated with radical prostatectomy versus external beam radiotherapy plus brachytherapy with or without androgen deprivation. 
Palliative Radiation in the Modern Era
Free CME course for Mount Sinai Faculty and Staff
Friday, April 20, 2018
National HealthCare Decisions Day
The mission of  National Healthcare Decisions Day  is to educate the public and health care providers about the importance of advance care planning. Under the leadership of  Cardinale Smith, MD , that message will be shared with the Mount Sinai community during the week of April 16 through system-wide activities and events, including an  education session  for patients, families, and staff that features the perspectives of two long-term Mount Sinai patients. 
Dr. Smith is Associate Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Associate Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, and TCI member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program.
“The End of the Beginning”  
22nd Annual Douglas West Endowed Memorial Lecture 
Presented by  J eremy Boal, MD , Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Mount Sinai Health System  
Wednesday, April 18, 5:30 pm 
Goldwurm Auditorium 

for the Mount Sinai community
May 25, New York Academy of Medicine

Details forthcoming

TCI will host a dinner at the annual ASCO conference on June 2 at Francesca’s on Chestnut.

Dr. Parsons looks forward to welcoming colleagues from other cancer programs and sharing TCI’s latest advances in immunotherapy research. If you plan to attend the dinner, let Dr. Parsons know via email to Dominique Bordes.

Do you have news for the next issue of  TCI Connections
Please send to  

Remember to share breaking news and high impact news that might be appropriate for media coverage with Marlene Naanes in the Press Office. This may include pending FDA drug/device approvals, studies/trial results being published in high-impact journals, and patient stories. The more lead time you can give Marlene, the better—ideally, four weeks or when a paper is accepted by the journal. Embargoes will always be honored and news will only be released with your approval. Please also remember to send ASCO abstracts when they are approved.

  TCI Connections  is a monthly publication of The Tisch Cancer Institute.
Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, TCI Director
Co-editors: Janet Aronson and Rhaisili Rosario
Past issues of  TCI Connections  are available on the TCI website.