MAY 20, 2020 10:00 AM EDT | APAC MAY 21, 2020 1:00 PM CST

How COVID-19 has Changed an Immuno-oncologist's Life: from Optimizing Daily Practice to the Targeted Treatment of Cytokine Storm

Speaker
  • Director, Istituto Nazionale Tumori IRCCS Fondazione Pascale, Napoli, Italy
    Biography
      Paolo A. Ascierto Director of the Unit of Melanoma, Cancer Immunotherapy and Development Therapeutics at the National Tumor Institute, Naples, Italy. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Naples, the same institution where he subsequently earned his Board Certification in Oncology. He went on to serve consecutive positions at the National Tumor Institute in Naples, as a postdoctoral fellow and then as Vice Director of the Department of Clinical Immunology.

      Professor Ascierto's research interests include the genetics and proteomics of melanoma, assessment of new molecular markers for tumor progression, biochemical and immunological monitoring, immunotherapy and vaccination treatments in solid tumors, and combination strategies with I-O. He has been the Principal Investigator in over 80 clinical trials and is an active member in several international medical societies. He is a member of the Steering Committee of Society of Melanoma Research (SMR) since 2016, the board of Cancer Development Drug Forum (CDDF) since 2017, the Board of Directors of Society of Immuno Therapy of Cancer (SITC) since 2018, and President of the Fondazione Melanoma Onlus since 2010, and of Campania Society of ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (SCITO) since 2013. He is an active reviewer for several international journals including, NEJM, JCO, Lancet Oncology, and Clinical Cancer Research, as well as an Associate Editor for Onco-Immunology of Annals of Oncology, Chief Section Editor for Combination Strategies section of Journal of Translational Medicine, Chief Section Editor of Expert Reviews of Immunology Vaccines and Informatics, and Associate Editor of Journal of ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. He is the author of more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Such journals include: The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Clinical Cancer Research, among others.

    Abstract

    The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV2), changed the daily life of medical oncologists. To keep safe both patients and healthy workers is the most important rule. In our daily practice we adopted a specific policy about the conduct of our clinical managements of melanoma patients, in order to minimise the risk of any potential exposure. In addition, immuno-oncologists may have an important role during such pandemic. Indeed, they have an important experience in the management of immuno-related adverse events due to the hyperactivation of immune system as consequence of immunotherapy. Since the acute respiratory distress syndrome by COVID-19 seems to occur from an excess of cytokine production, some drugs used in the management of immune-related side effects could be useful for treating ARDS by COVID-19. In particular, they know the key role played by IL-6 in the pathogenesis of these kind of hyperinflammation syndromes. In Italy we started on 19th of March a phase II study (NCT04317092), which enrolled 330 patients in 24 hours, looking to the ability of tocilizumab to reduce the one-month mortality rate as main study endpoint. Results should be reported very soon. Other drugs active in reducing the cytokine release syndrome are at moment in clinical trial or expanded access program like JAK inhibitors, complement inhibitors, toll like receptor inhibitors and others.


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