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SU2C-Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team: Therapeutic CD8 Vaccines Against Conserved E7 HPV Epitopes Identified by MS

Ellis L. Reinherz, MD

Ellis L. Reinherz, MD

Chief, Laboratory of Immunobiology; Co-director, Cancer Vaccine Center
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Robert I. Haddad, MD

Robert I. Haddad, MD

Chief, Head and Neck Oncology Program
Department of Adult Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School


The SU2C-Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team focuses on patients with HPV-driven cancers (including cervical, anal, and head and neck cancer) who relapse following initial therapy. The Team aims to develop novel immunotherapy approaches that will address this huge unmet need.

Once a cancer-causing type of HPV has established itself, immune cells called cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are required to eradicate the virus-infected precancerous or cancerous cells. CTLs recognize “tags” on the surface of cells. More specifically, “tags” called epitopes, on cells, are detected by molecules called T cell receptors (TCRs) on the CTLs. Using their TCRs, CTLs can distinguish between normal and abnormal cells with great specificity.

Members of the research team have developed a novel method to find epitopes on cancer cells that are entirely specific for the cancer and hence not found on the normal cells in the body. CTLs in the patient’s body can be programmed by vaccination to detect these epitopes and then attack and kill the cancer. One epitope CTL target that the team has already identified has been incorporated into a new therapeutic vaccine that is being tested by the team in patients in a clinical trial as part of this research grant.

Progress to Date

The team is continuing to enroll patients in their vaccine clinical trial. The team has used their epitope-identification technology to find other epitopes for the development of additional immunotherapies.

Amount Of Funding

$1.2 million


  • Cornelia Trimble, MD, Johns Hopkins University


  • Mary-Jo Murphy

Updated: May 2016