Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Center (CIIC) – Designing robust immunotherapies against cancer
The Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Center (CIIC) was founded in 1996 to investigate the field of cancer immunology, which is based on the premise that the body's immune system can be mobilized against cancer. This field, which CIIC helped progress, has provided the basis for the development of cancer immunotherapy. Research at the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Center (CIIC) is dedicated to experimental cancer research, in close collaboration with the adjacent "Saint Savas" Cancer Hospital.
Drawing upon the expertise of internationally renowned researchers and clinicians from the Schools of Biology and Medicine, the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Center is at the forefront of today's advances in cancer research and cancer immunotherapy.
Interdisciplinary research by CIIC experts in cancer biology, cancer immunology and cancer immunotherapy and other fields is yielding critical insights into the origins of cancer, while collaborations between the lab and clinic are working to move the most promising discoveries into improved diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies.
Patients seeking care at St Savas Cancer Hospital may gain early access to these emerging therapies—and the benefits that they may offer—through the center’s clinical trials program.
The Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Center (CIIC) is a leading translational research center for several types of cancer including breast and prostate cancer. There are scientists working in our center who are in close interaction and collaborate worldwide with other scientists and clinicians from US and European clinical research, universities and oncology centers, developing novel protocols on how to treat cancer. Our scientific team at the CIIC works in three main disciplines: discovery of new immunotherapeutic modalities in preclinical tumor/mouse models, vaccine-based phase I and phase II clinical trials, and discovery of novel prognostic and predictive biomarkers. Putting all these as an integrated approach, we aim to setting place better diagnostic tools for cancer and more effective forms of therapy. Our translational research is unique mostly due to the fact that it aims at the development of treatment modalities that could be of benefit not just for people suffering from cancer but also for people who are at risk for cancer, in this way preventing cancer in the future. The CIIC is a research entity consisting of scientists dedicated to the discovery of immune and molecular pathways which pave the way for diagnosing cancer in the future and for developing new modalities of therapy. We surely believe that every day that passes brings us closer to the successful designing of robust cancer immunotherapies.
According to Eurostat 2016, 85.4 thousand people died from breast cancer in the EU-27, of which just over one thousand were men and the vast majority (84.3 thousand) were women. As such, deaths from breast cancer made up around 7.3 % of all deaths from cancer; among women, breast cancer accounted for 16.5 % of all deaths from cancer. In addition, in 2016, 65.2 thousand men died from prostate cancer in the EU-27, equivalent to 5.6 % of all deaths from cancer and 1.4 % of the total number of deaths from any cause. As all of these deaths occurred among men, the share of male deaths attributed to prostate cancer was 2.9 %, approximately double the share for the whole population. Fighting against these odds, we are in close collaboration with research scientists and clinicians in Greece as well as in Europe and the USA aiming at improvement the diagnosis and therapeutic treatments of various types of cancer and particularly of prostate and breast cancer. We are placing a particular interest for the development of effective immunotherapeutic platforms (mostly in the form of peptide-based vaccines) aiming at the improvement of both the overall survival and quality of life for cancer patients.
Our scientific objectives follow two main directions which ascribe novelty and originality: in the first, by using appropriate algorithms we are identifying immunologically active regions within tumor proteins. Then by applying automated protein biosynthesis, we are synthesizing these regions (called peptides or poly-peptides, depending on their length) and we are testing them for their capacity (i) to activate the immune system in experimental animals in vivo but also in vitro working with cancer patients’ lymphocytes and (ii) to act as preventive and therapeutic vaccines in experimental tumor models. Once we have identified such candidate cancer peptide or poly-peptide vaccines, we are testing those for toxicity and immunologic activity as well as therapeutic efficacy in clinical trials. In the second direction, we are exploring the role a panel of soluble mediators and cells as prognostic and predictive biomarkers either by retrospectively analyzing data from phase I clinical trials or prospectively in a phase II studies. The scientific staff working at the CIIC, has both the expertise and the experience to guarantee the accomplishment of all the above objectives. We are also placing efforts for detecting prognostic and predictive immune biomarkers for selecting patients most likely to respond to immunotherapies.