Press Release

For Immediate Release
October 21, 2003

For more information, contact:
Laura Kalies at


(Milwaukee)-Vladia Monsurrņ, PhD will present “Effectiveness of Anti-cancer Vaccines Limited by Low T cell Activity” at the 18th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc) being held October 30-November 2, 2003 in Bethesda, Maryland.

This presentation is based on an abstract “Quiescent Phenotype of Tumor-Specific CD8+ T Cells Following Immunization by Vladia Monsurro1, Ena Wang1, Yoshisha Yamano2, Stephen Migueles3, Monica Panelli1, Kina Smith1, Dirk Nagorsen1, Mark Connors3, Steven Jacobson2, Francesco Marincola1. 1Immunogenetic Section of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, CC/NIH, Bethesda, MD; 2Viral Immunology Section, Neuroimmunology Branch, NINDS/NIH, Bethesda, MD; 3The Laboratory of Immunoregulation, NIAID/NIH, Betehsda, MD.

Traditional anti-cancer treatments kill normal-healthy cells as well as tumor cells. The research in this abstract will demonstrate the development of vaccination-induced T cells which will recognize and kill cancer cells without killing normal-healthy cells in patients with cancer. “The gene activated vaccination-induced T cells are special because they can specifically recognize and kill cancer cells and not kill other cells in the human body. This could be a very promising advance for anti-cancer vaccines as cancer therapy.” said Dr. Monsurrņ, who works in a lab directed by Francesco M. Marincola, MD at the National Institutes of Health.

Monsurrņ and her co-workers began their research by addressing the ongoing issue of why anti-cancer vaccinations have not yet achieved full efficacy. They studied the activation of genes in vaccination-induced T cells identifiable in blood. Their research found that current vaccination-induced T cells could recognize cancer cells, but did not have the expected properties of normal T cells to kill cells as well. Normally, T cells have the ability to recognize and kill cells. An unexpected result, before completion of this project, was that the generation of T cells after vaccination is not sufficient to destroy cancer deposits. Monsurrņ and co-workers pursued this problem by researching studies done on the activation of genes in vaccination-induced T cells identifiable in blood. Monsurrņ and her team found that vaccination induced T cells appear to have a “memory” feature that recognizes cancer cells. These vaccination induced T cells are inactive or remain still, thus are not efficient to kill a tumor on their own. Monsurrņ et all discovered that if they exposed the vaccination induced T cells to antigens present on the cancer cells along with immune-stimulating substances such as interleukin-2, the vaccination induced T cells would use their “memory” feature to reactivate and thus recognize and kill cancer cells without killing normal-healthy cells.

Monsurrņ and co-workers conclude the abstract with a note of importance-anti-cancer immunization is a very important first step that leads to generation of cancer-specific T cells, an important and natural reagent against cancer, but regulating the timing and quantity of administration of immune stimulating substances is critical to activate vaccination induced T cells at the tumor site and exploit their full potential. The results of this exciting research present the opportunity for new schemes of vaccination to be devised and produce further advances in anti-cancer vaccines.


The Society for Biological Therapy was founded in 1984 with 40 charter members. The Society currently has over 450 members consisting primarily of MDs, PhDs, RNs, and corporate representatives. The purpose and mission of the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc) is to bring together those individuals actively involved in the preclinical and clinical investigation of biological agents in the treatment of cancer. Scientific and business meetings have been held annually since the first Annual Meeting of SBT in 1986. At the 2002 business meeting held November 9, 2002, the SBT membership voted to officially change the name of the Society and it thus became the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc).