Alain Algazi, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology), UCSF
Program Leader, UCSF Head and Neck Medical Oncology
Melanoma Specialist, UCSF Medical Center
My research interests are currently focused on enhancing anti-tumor immune responses in patients with advanced melanoma and head andneck cancer. Anti-tumor immune responses induced by PD-1 antibodies can be limited by inadequate tumor infiltration by effector T-cells, the presence of regulatory cells, or the absence of pro-inflammatory cytokine in the tumor. To bridge this gap, I have been leading clinical trials of intratumoral plasmid injection followed by electroporation. This approach allows the intratumoral elaboration of IL12 without the significant toxicity. Intratumoral treatment with plasmid IL-12 and electroporation (IT-pIL12-EP) can induce TIL infiltration and cytokine elaboration. This, in turn, can lead to regression of both injected and uninjected lesions in metastatic melanoma patients with extensive in-transit lesions. Our group also demonstrated that IT-pIL12-EP can prime tumors to respond to PD-1 antibodies and I am currently leading clinical efforts to combine IT-pIL12-EP with pembrolizumab in melanoma patients in a phase 2 clinical trial. The plasmid electroporation platform also allows intratumoral transduction of plasmid DNA coding for additional immune modulators and next-generation plasmids are currently under development. Our group also pioneered the use of IT-pIL12-EP in patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
After gaining clinical trials experience in melanoma and building a busy clinical practice in both melanoma and head and neck oncology, I was named as UCSF’s Program Leader for Head and Neck Medical Oncology as well as Chair of the Head and Neck Research Committee. I am currently developing a portfolio trials focused on immune therapy in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. There are currently a large number of PD-1 antibody trials in clinical development, but pre-clinical data thatcould help prioritize these trials is lacking. I am currently collaboratingwith Jim Keck at the Jackson Laboratory to develop a new mouse model with ahumanized immune system to facilitate evaluation of immune therapy combinations optimized for use in humans.
In addition to my work on immune therapy, I am also the national study chair for a clinical trial of continuous versus intermittentdosing of dabrafenib and trametinib in BRAF inhibitor naïve patients with BRAF mutant melanoma. This trial is based on the finding that BRAF mutant melanoma tumors that become resistant to BRAF inhibitors may become dependent on continued drug exposure for survival. In this model, dose interruptions were associated with tumor regressions and maintained BRAF inhibitor sensitivity. S1320 was developed to test this hypothesis in patients.
UCLA School of Medicine 2004
UCLA Medical Center, Internal Medicine 2007
UCSF Medical Center, Hematology and Oncology 2010