Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD
Director of the Tumor Immunology Program Area, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor with a double appointment in medicine (hematology-oncology) and surgery (surgical oncology) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is also an assistant director for clinical programs at the UCLA Human Gene Medicine Program, director of the JCCC Cell and Gene Therapy Core Facility, General Clinical Research Center Advisory Board Member and faculty advisor to the UCLA Residency Program.
Ribas trained at the University of Barcelona in Spain, and has undergone postdoctoral training at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego and at UCLA. He joined the UCLA Hematology-Oncology Fellowship program and has been a faculty member since July of 2001.
Ribas and his colleagues are conducting studies aimed at understanding how the immune system can be effectively used to treat cancer. The work is focused on the ability to activate killer immune cells specifically targeted to the cancer. One line of research is the use of dendritic cells engineered to express tumor antigens, which have been shown to induce powerful responses against cancer. This approach has been taken from preclinical studies in mice to a phase I clinical trial for the treatment of patients with malignant melanoma. Assays with defined performance specifications determined in detailed methodology studies are being used for the immune monitoring of the human clinical trials. Another line of research is the stimulation of innate responses to tumors. Dendritic cells are very powerful in activating natural killer cells that lead to tumor regressions, and the immunobiology of these responses are being studied. Additional interests of the laboratory are the use of interventions that modify the regulation of tumor-specific lymphocytes, and the pharmacological modulation of the interaction between the lytic immune cells (cytotoxic T lymphocytes or natural killer cells) with the cancer cells, with the goal of further increasing their antitumor potential.