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Sawa Ito

Sawa Ito

Program: Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy


Bone marrow stem cell transplantation is, for many, the only curative treatment for leukemia and lymphoma-blood cancers. From this technique, we have learned that immune cells of the donor which are transferred in the transplant can eradicate blood cancer, in the so-called graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect. My research work is directed to finding ways to harness this GVL immune effect to cure leukemia and lymphoma. I am particularly interested in preventing and treating post-transplant relapse which remains the major cause of transplant failure. This involves two approaches: The first is to improve the results of transplants for people with leukemia by increasing the GVL effect and decreasing the hazards of the transplant through biomarker-directed personalized medicine and adoptive cellular immunotherapy. The second is to find ways to create a new immunotherapy boosting the patient's own immune system and thus avoid the complication of transplantation altogether.

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