Despite progress, many children diagnosed with cancer in 2015 have less than a 50 percent chance of survival. Although our understanding of the biology has advanced substantially, new targeted therapies have not yet significantly improved outcomes or allowed us to develop less toxic standard therapies.
Our studies, led by Yael Mossé, MD, have revealed that ALK is expressed on the surface of neuroblastoma cells, but not on normal tissue, giving it the properties of a tumor antigen. Our recent efforts have revealed that ALK is differentially expressed at high levels in subsets of other childhood solid tumors — arguing that ALK is a promising target for immunotherapy.
We are now developing immunotherapeutic strategies for specifically targeting ALK in neuroblastoma, with potential for application in other pediatric tumors.