CRI Funded Scientists

Ben Creelan, MD, Wade F. B. Thompson CLIP Investigator

Moffitt Cancer Center

Area of Research: Lung Cancer

T cells are the precision killers of our immune system, and through treatments like tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy, we can harness their power for cancer immunotherapy. TIL therapy involves taking T cells from patients’ tumors, expanding their numbers in the lab, and then putting them back into patients (sometimes after selecting for certain T cells within the overall population). As the leader of a clinical trial using TIL therapy, Dr. Creelan has already seen several people with stage 4 lung cancer achieve complete responses, but more work and new strategies are needed to help more patients.

To that end, Dr. Creelan seeks to identify causes of resistance to TIL therapy by profiling patients’ tumors before and after treatment to see how the cancer cells have changed and possibly mutated in a way that enables them to evade T cells. Additionally, he’s developing a way to successfully grow a special type of memory T cell in the lab, which then, he hopes, could be used to generate better T cells for TIL therapies in the clinic. In the near-term, this knowledge could guide clinical TIL applications and trial designs, and eventually the development of next-generation cell therapy approaches.

Projects and Grants

Identifying antigenic mechanisms of response and resistance to tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer

Moffitt Cancer Center | Lung Cancer | 2021

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