The Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN) strives to make promising experimental immunotherapies broadly available to people with cancer. The CITN benefits from the collective expertise of top academic immunologists to conduct multicenter research on immunotherapy agents capable of unleashing patient immunity to fight cancer.
We focus on testing novel agents in innovative early phase clinical trials. Our trials are designed to provide critical data that helps speed potential therapies from experimental stages to wide-spread use treating patients with cancer.
Supported by the National Cancer Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, CITN originated during a 2007 meeting of the world’s leading immunotherapy experts. The goal was twofold: To identify the most promising cancer immunotherapy agents that had been discovered in research labs worldwide. And to develop strategies for testing them in people. The hope was that these novel substances might help cure cancer.
Today, CITN comprises a network of top academic immunologists, clinical trial sites, laboratories and funding partners located at 36 of the foremost universities and cancer centers in North America. Relying on the collective expertise of our members, CITN designs and conducts early-stage, multicenter clinical trials of the most promising immunotherapy agents. These experimental drugs would not otherwise be available to patients with cancer.
A pioneer in immunotherapy research, Fred Hutch houses two critical components of CITN – the Central Operations and Statistical Center and the CITN Immune Monitoring Lab.
Directed by Dr. Martin “Mac” Cheever, CITN’s Central Operations and Statistical Center provides overall leadership to the network as well as organizational infrastructure, protocol development, statistical design and support for trial coordination. The COSC staff coordinates the work of CITN member site investigators and research staff across North America to design and conduct leading-edge clinical trials of the most promising immunotherapy agents. Fred Hutch researchers Dr. Mary “Nora” Disis and Dr. Thomas S. Uldrick serve as co-directors.
Directed by Dr. Steven Fling, the CITN Immune Monitoring Lab conducts molecular assays and genetic assessments of specimens collected from patients in CITN trials. The lab serves as a central repository for these samples. The goal is to derive insights that can be used to inform future clinical trial designs while improving the understanding of the agents, the action of tumor cells and why some people respond to specific therapies while others do not.
T cells are potent immune cells that can identify and kill foreign cells like cancer and other foreign invaders that cause disease. Yet, cancer often destroys or evades the body's T cells, leaving patients weakened and unable to fight the disease. Because T cells are so effective at activating the immune system, CITN focuses on studying promising agents that increase the number of T cells that can recognize and kill cancer cells.
CITN operates with a singular strategic focus on testing promising immunotherapy agents and advancing them into the clinic to treat patients. Our trials have been the basis for groundbreaking therapies that have changed standards of care for two cancers: Merkel cell carcinoma (a rare skin cancer) and T-cell lymphoma (the most common blood cancer). Immunotherapy agents are now recommended for the treatment of patients with these diseases.
Immunotherapy in the form of a class of compounds known as check-point inhibitors are now recommended to treat Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare form of skin cancer. It has been effective in some people with advanced disease who have not responded to other treatments.
Immunotherapy is now recommended to treat T-cell lymphoma, the most common blood cancer. These effective treatments block tumor molecules that inhibit protective T-cell responses in cancer patients.
Certain cancers occur more often in people with HIV, however patients with HIV have historically been excluded from clinical trials. The CITN has opened trials that test immunotherapy agents in people with HIV and cancer concurrently on antiretroviral therapy.
Based on our success with trials for adults, CITN has recently expanded its reach into pediatric cancer trials. We have enlisted the top pediatric immunotherapists to conduct these trials and bring needed treatment to our most vulnerable patients.
CITN collaborates with biopharmaceutical partners to advance promising immunotherapy compounds to the clinic. We offer access to a proven clinical trials infrastructure that supports immunotherapy drug development from concept to market.
CITN welcomes the opportunity to discuss strategic alliances and scientific advisory roles with the biopharmaceutical industry for compounds that have demonstrated cancer immune activity.
Philanthropic contributions offer foundations the opportunity to design and co-sponsor clinical trials, which accelerates effective immunotherapy development for a variety of cancers. CITN has a strong track record of conducting robust and cost-effective trials with our centralized training, monitoring, and resource sharing.
CITN seeks partnerships with organizations that share our strategic vision—to bring critical lifesaving treatments to patients with cancer quickly and efficiently. Our philanthropic and nonprofit partners help improve the standard of care for every patient with cancer.
Our philanthropic and nonprofit partners include: