Dennis Hallahan, MD, FASRO
Chairman, Radiation Oncology
Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor in Medicine
Department of Radiation Oncology
Washington University School of Medicine
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The J.C. Penney Award)
(American Association for Cancer Research)
Antibodies are used to treat cancer. These are large proteins that bind to cancer cells and activate an immune response against the cancer. Dr. Hallahan has developed new types of antibodies that bind to proteins on breast cancer during the cancer stress response that occurs during cancer therapy. He has developed an assay that measures the immune response against cancer cells using antibodies he had created. His team has also developed a way to link cancer drugs to the antibodies so that they can be carried to breast cancer. These drugs are radioactive and not only treat cancer with radiation, but also allow Dr. Hallahan to image the distribution of the antibodies. His team is presently doing the safety testing of these radiolabelled antibodies for their application with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). This safety testing must be completed prior to Dr. Hallahan’s planned clinical trial.
Dr. Hallahan reports that the clinical trial studying the model monoclonal antibody in breast cancer patients was submitted to the FDA, NCI Experimental Therapeutics, and NCI Peer Review Study Sections. All groups recommended humanization of the antibody prior to clinical studies in breast cancer patients. During the first year of funding, the researchers adhered to FDA guidance by humanizing the antibody to create a human IgG monoclonal. Safety testing of the human antibody must now be completed. During the second year of funding, the researchers will complete dosimetry and CMC studies (FDA guidelines), and will also conclude toxicology and toxicokinetic studies that have been contracted to a GLP Contract Research Organization to adhere to FDA guidelines. Their next step will be to initiate the clinical proof of concept study after safety testing of the humanized antibody is completed. The proposed studies will add another dimension to breast cancer drug development because these molecular targets are inducible and become accessible during traditional cancer therapy.
Dr. Dennis Hallahan, FASRO is chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology and the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor in Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. His clinical interests are in treating cancers of the brain and central nervous system, in addition to breast cancer.
Dr. Hallahan’s primary focus is in drug development for treatment of cancer. He has prioritized several antigens and antibodies that will now enter clinical trials. Dr. Hallahan has a laboratory with 20 members including students, fellows, residents, junior faculty and research assistants that are all focused upon the drugs proposed in this application. He is a member of the Leadership Committee of Siteman Cancer Center and oversees all research conducted in the Department of Radiation Oncology. He has served as the Principal Investigator for many clinical investigations and over a dozen R01 grants from the National Cancer Institute. Based upon his leadership experience, Washington University School of Medicine has named Dr. Hallahan the Chairman of both the Entrepreneurship Committee and the Research Advisory Committee for the School of Medicine.