Immunotherapy Scientist Stories

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Buffalo, NY

Spearheading Immunotherapies for Ovarian Cancer Patients

As a co-leader of the Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Odunsi is giving new hope to women battling the “cancer that whispers.”

Women diagnosed with advanced-stage ovarian cancer may respond positively to chemotherapy, but the benefits seldom last. More than seventy percent die of recurrent disease within five years.

With the help of the CRI Clinical Investigation Program, Dr. Odunsi is able to focus his talents on improving those odds through immunotherapy.

Many ovarian-cancer patients in his CRI/LICR Cancer Vaccine Collaborative clinical trials at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, show encouraging results, including significant delays in time to disease recurrence and, in some cases, remission.

The Nigerian-born physician scientist has also made major contributions to monitoring patients’ immune responses during vaccine therapy and arriving at accurate prognoses. He’s published more than eighty scientific papers on the subject.

Most recently, Dr. Odunsi and colleagues have recently identified a number of potential biomarkers in ovarian cancer. The identified proteins appear to play a critical role in ovarian cancer progression and may well serve as a predictive marker for early detection of the disease.

Dr. Odunsi is as comfortable with patients as he is with petri dishes. “He takes time to explain the science and makes me feel like a participant in something bigger than just what’s happening to me,” says one clinical trial patient. “He’s brilliant and compassionate.”

Physician scientists like Dr. Odunsi are bridging the divide between the laboratory and the clinic, translating basic discoveries into new therapies—and new hope—for cancer patients.

Originally published November 5, 2013.

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