Cancer Research Institute Media Room




A Blueprint to Advance Colorectal Cancer Immunotherapies

Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) are proud to announce “A Blueprint to Advance Colorectal Cancer Immunotherapies” will be published in the November 2017 issue of the journal Cancer Immunology Research (published online ahead of print on October 16, 2017). The article is the culmination of an over year-long collaborative effort convened by the two organizations alongside leaders in both oncology and immunotherapy to author a paper with the intent of furthering and guiding colorectal cancer research.

This multidisciplinary, multi-institutional effort was co-chaired by Dung Le, MD, of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Al Benson, MD, of Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

“The blueprint is a collaboration between stakeholders, including clinicians, scientists, industry, patients, and advocates, who are all invested in the development of novel approaches for patients with colon cancer,” said Dr. Le. “This comes at a time when unprecedented development of novel immune agents is intersecting with our deeper understanding of colorectal molecular subtypes and of the complexities of the tumor microenvironment.”

The intent of the effort is to build off the identified immunologic factors that may be modulated to improve immunotherapy for CRC patients, with the goal that the biomarkers and treatment strategies identified in the manuscript will become part of the routine management of colorectal cancer (CRC).

The effort came together when Fight CRC and CRI recognized the need for experts in their respective disciplines to collaborate and identify strategies on advancing this research.

“Immunotherapies have proven effective in only a small subset of colorectal cancer patients, and this collaborative effort aims to improve outcomes for more CRC patients by identifying molecular, genetic, and microenvironmental factors that influence patient responses in order to develop more successful therapeutic interventions,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD, CEO and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute and an author on the paper. 

Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, director of health promotion for Fight CRC, another author on the paper, played an instrumental role in convening the experts and getting the manuscript published. She commented, 
“As a neutral convener, Fight CRC was gathering experts right at the time immunotherapy ignited. Working with our Immunotherapy Work Group, we are able to share a road map of the current state of the science. This helps doctors in every community better connect patients to immunotherapy treatment and also inform their clinical and research efforts to advance immunotherapy treatments. The goal is better care and treatment of colorectal cancer patients.”

In addition to publishing the paper, as part of the ongoing commitment to research, Fight CRC and CRI jointly administered a two-year, $400,000 grant to Cindy L. Sears, MD, of Johns Hopkins to study “Gut microbiome and the immune microenvironment of human primary and metastatic colorectal cancer”—a topic the group of experts who authored the paper deemed a priority in the advancement of colorectal cancer immunotherapy.

Fight CRC’s contribution to the grant, $200,000, was matched by CRI and became the largest single-grant Fight CRC has distributed to date. 

«We are thrilled and proud to announce this publication,” said Anjee Davis, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer and an author on the paper. “It reflects over a year’s worth of work incorporating the patient voice, convening global leaders, building opportunities for collaboration and fostering meaningful engagement across disciplines. We’re focused on the road ahead for immunotherapy research in colorectal cancer. As an advocacy organization, we leveraged our best asset: the power to convene. Ultimately, we hope this will help advance scientific efforts and lead to a colorectal cancer cure.»

To view the online manuscript of “A Blueprint to Advance Colorectal Cancer Immunotherapies” published in Cancer Immunology Research, visit

About Colorectal Cancer
Colon and rectal cancers (colorectal cancer or CRC) make up the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2017 there are an expected:
●    95,520 new cases of colon cancer
●    39,910 new cases of rectal cancer
●    50,260 deaths from colorectal cancer

The disease is most treatable and curable when caught early; however, about one in three adults between ages 50 and 75 (23 million people) are not getting tested as recommended. To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit

Media Contacts:
For Fight CRC:
Danielle Burgess, +571.335.8442, [email protected]

For Cancer Research Institute:
Brian Brewer, +212.688.7515 x242, [email protected] 

About Fight Colorectal Cancer
Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) is a trusted national nonprofit advocacy organization fighting for a cure. It was founded in 2005 by Nancy Roach, a patient advocate who witnessed the need for colorectal cancer advocacy after her mother-in-law’s diagnosis. The organization plays an important role in rallying colorectal cancer advocates to action. Fight CRC is known for activism and patient empowerment throughout patient, academic, political, scientific, medical and nonprofit communities. With a mission focused on advocacy, research, patient education and awareness, the organization serves advocates in every state of the U.S. and many others around the world. Fight CRC is a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator and 93 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to colorectal cancer programs. To learn more, visit

About the Cancer Research Institute
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the world’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to transforming cancer patient care by advancing scientific efforts to develop new and effective immune system-based strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat, and eventually cure all cancers. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes three Nobel laureates and 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested $344 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities, and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to

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