The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
At a ceremony held on the Thomas Jefferson University campus, George Prendergast, PhD, LIMR Professor, President and CEO, was named Kimmel Cancer Center’s 2012 Inventor of the Year. This prestigious award was presented to Dr. Prendergast by Richard Pestell, MD, Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center (KCC). In addition to his roles at LIMR, Dr. Prendergast is also Professor in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy & Cell Biology, Jefferson Medical School, Thomas Jefferson University and the Co-Director of the Program in Cell Biology & Signaling, KCC, Thomas Jefferson University since 2006. Dr. Prendergast has an extensive patent portfolio, including around his pioneering research on IDO enzymes.
The award recognizes allowance of a US patent from Dr. Prendergast’s group at LIMR on IDO2, an immune regulatory molecule that affects cancer and autoimmunity. In a serendipitous laboratory finding, they found that the malaria drug chloroquine can inhibit the IDO2 enzyme and prevent its cancer-promoting effects in patients with brain metastasis. IDO inhibitors such as chloroquine may be able to help stop cancer in its tracks by arresting tumor growth and enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Ongoing preclinical research at LIMR has quickly driven clinical development of IDO and IDO2 inhibitors for immuno-chemotherapy in cancer. Dr. Prendergast and colleague Dr. Albert DeNittis, MD, Lankenau Medical Center’s Chief of Radiation Oncology, recently completed a clinical trial pilot study determining that chloroquine can be safe and effective in improving the overall survival of subjects being treated with whole-brain radiation for brain metastasis. Their findings also suggested that the IDO2 gene may provide a predictive marker for determining when chloroquine is most effective in improving patient survival after whole-brain radiotherapy. Further clinical research is continuing with Dr. DeNittis to quickly identify a patient’s IDO2 status as a way to determine whether they may benefit from chloroquine, when this safe drug is given along with radiotherapy.
This work builds upon ongoing human trials of IDO inhibitors, several of which are now entering Phase II clinical studies. The LIMR team has continued to pioneer work which helps guide the development of this new class of drugs for patients, including by discovering how they work to relieve tumoral suppression on the immune system. These insights help oncologists identify those patients most likely to benefit from IDO inhibitors, and how they should be combined with other cancer treatments for maximum benefit.
Founded in 1927, the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is an independent, non-profit biomedical research center located in suburban Philadelphia on the campus of the Lankenau Medical Center. Part of Main Line Health, LIMR is one of the few freestanding, hospital-associated medical research centers in the nation. The faculty and staff at the Institute are dedicated to advancing an understanding of the causes of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. They use this information to help improve diagnosis and treatment of these diseases as well as find ways to prevent them. LIMR is also committed to extending the boundaries of human health and well-being through technology development and the training of the next generation of scientists and physicians. For more information, please visit www.limr.org.