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Hassane Zarour

Title of talk: "Next target for immune checkpoint blockade in cancer"

Short biosketch: Dr. Hassane Zarour is a human cancer immunologist and co-leader of the Melanoma Program at the UPMC Hillman cancer Center. His research focuses on immunotherapies of melanoma and other solid tumors, T cell responses to tumor antigens and the mechanisms of tumor -induced T cell dysfunction. His work has led to the identification of multiple inhibitory pathways that cooperate with PD-1 to impede tumor antigen-specific T cell responses to melanoma and other solid tumors. His findings serve as a rationale for first-in-human clinical trials with dual immune checkpoint blockade in cancer patients.

Summary of talk: Blocking the interaction between the programmed cell death (PD)-1 protein and one of its ligands, PD-L1, with blocking antibodies provides significant clinical benefits to cancer patients. To improve the clinical benefits of PD-1 blockade, we need to elaborate therapeutic strategies to counteract the tumor-intrinsic and tumor-extrinsic mechanisms of tumor-induced T cell dysfunction in the tumor micro-environment. Here, I will present the data supporting the rationale for dual immune checkpoint blockade to improve the clinical benefits of PD-1 blockade in cancer.