Mihir Patel, MD
Head and Neck Surgeon

"We now have an inclination that incorporating immune therapy with PD-1 blockade prior to surgery or radiation may benefit patients (with HPV+ head and neck cancer.)"

Scientists at Emory Vaccine Center and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University report that the immune cells that are the major targets of immune checkpoint inhibitors are present in tumors from head and neck cancer patients. The study, published in Nature, focuses on head and neck tumors that are positive for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is becoming one of most common types of head and neck cancers treated in the Western world.

It suggests checkpoint inhibitors, which have transformed the treatment of several types of cancer, could be uniquely effective against this type of head and neck cancer. The results also indicate that the experimental approach of therapeutic vaccination for HPV+ cancer could be broadened to include more elements of the virus, to potentially trigger a broader and stronger immune response.

Researchers from Rafi Ahmed's lab at Emory Vaccine Center Haydn Kissick, PhD, Andreas Wieland, PhD, and Christiane Eberhardt, MD collaborated with the co-directors of the Winship Head and Neck Cancers working group, oncologists Nabil Saba, MD and Mihir Patel, MD, on the study.

Patel is member of the Cell and Molecular Biology Research Program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

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