Haverford College; BA in Mathematics; 1999
George Washington University School of Washington; MD; 2005 George Washington University Medical Center; Internal Medicine Residency; 2005-2008
University of Washington (UW)/ Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Oncology Fellowship; 2008-2011
Dr. Pollack is an expert on sarcomas, cancers of the bone and soft tissues. He sees sarcoma patients at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA; a partnership between the Fred Hutch, UW and Seattle Children’s Hospital), the largest tertiary referral center for sarcoma patients in the Northwest and an important resource for patients from Eastern Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and Hawaii. The SCCA is consistently one of the highest enrolling sites for national sarcoma clinical trials, including trials focused on patients with especially rare sarcoma subtypes.
Dr. Pollack is developing new ways to enhance a sarcoma patient’s immune response against their cancer, and to thereby improve patient outcomes.
Dr. Pollack’s research is focused on the development of novel immunotherapies for patients with advanced sarcoma, particularly Synovial Sarcoma (SS) and Myxoid/ Round Cell Liposarcoma (MRCL). These are two soft tissue sarcoma subtypes that affect young individuals and have a median survival of approximately 1 year in the advanced setting. His laboratory showed SS and MRCL tumors homogenously express many proteins that can be recognized by immune T cells. Such proteins are also known as antigens. The NY-ESO-1 antigen has several features that make it an especially attractive target for immunotherapy.
Using clinical grade reagents, Pollack’s lab pioneered methods for isolating and expanding NY-ESO-1–specific T cells from the peripheral blood of sarcoma patients and adoptively transferring these cells back to patients to specifically kill NY-ESO-1 expressing tumor cells, sparing normal tissues. He is the Sponsor of an Investigational New Drug (IND) submission to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which approved these methods for use in clinical trials.
To further improve clinical responses, Dr. Pollack is addressing two potential means by which SS and MRCL tumors can evade immune control. These were uncovered in his laboratory studies. Two new clinical trials were specifically designed to reverse the immune evasion mechanisms and enhance clinical efficacy of adoptive, NY-ESO-1 targeting T cell therapy.
The SCCA sarcoma group has many studies aimed at improving care for patients with sarcoma.
The following clinical studies are integrated with ongoing work in Dr. Pollack’s lab:
NY-ESO-1-specific T cells in patients with metastatic NY-ESO-1-expressing sarcomas receiving palliative radiation: This pilot, phase I trial studies the safety of NY-ESO-1-specific immune T cells as a treatment for patients who are receiving palliative radiation therapy for NY-ESO-1-expressing sarcomas that have spread. The radiation therapy may help relieve patients’ symptoms, so they can live more comfortably. T cells gene-modified gene to target NY-ESO-1 may help build an immune response to kill tumor cells that express NY-ESO-1. Giving NY-ESO-1-specific T cells following palliative radiation therapy may be a better treatment for patients with advanced sarcomas.
Radiation plus GLA for patients with advanced sarcoma: Based on laboratory findings, it seems that manipulating the sarcoma tumor immune “microenvironment” will be critical for achieving durable complete remissions with immunotherapy. In this trial, patients with advanced sarcoma will have one of their tumors radiated, to enhance exposure of NY-ESO-1 tumor antigens to T cells. Patients will also receive injections of a drug called GLA that selectively increases numbers of cells (called type I macrophages) that can activate tumor-killing T cells and decreases type II (inhibitory) macrophages. NY-ESO-1 targeting T cell therapy will then begin. The goal is to create a strong T cell response that can fight cancer throughout a patient’s body.
LV305 for patients with advanced NY-ESO-1 Expressing Sarcomas: LV305 is a vaccine made by a company called Immune Design. It is designed to stimulate immune responses to NY-ESO-1. In addition to conducting a trial testing the safety and efficacy of this vaccine, Dr. Pollack’s lab is measuring immune responses to the vaccine in the blood of patients participating in the trial, to more fully inform future applications of this approach.
Dr. Seth Pollack, an oncologist who specializes in sarcoma, believes immunotherapy has the power to recognize cancer and kill it with relatively little toxicity.