Osama Rahma, MD
Clinical Trials with Cancer Vaccines and Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Pancreatic and Hepatobiliary Cancer
Osama Rahma, MD has recently joined the Emily Couric Cancer Center at UVA with the goal of developing an active translational research program in GI Oncology. During his previous training at the National Cancer Institute Dr. Rahma was involved in designing, conducting and analyzing clinical trials using variety of novel peptide cancer vaccines that targeted VHL, p53, HPV-16 E6/E7 and mutant ras peptides. In addition, Dr. Rahma was involved in the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as PD-1 inhibitor, in variety of malignancies. As a member of the Emily Couric Cancer Center and in collaboration with Dr. Todd Bauer, Dr. Thomas Parsons and Dr. Craig Slingluff labs, Dr. Rahma’s main focus is to study the pancreatic tumor microenvironment and to identify prognostic immune biomarkers and immune-related genes that may correlate with outcomes. Dr. Rahma will be exploring potential clinical application of these immune biomarkers in pancreatic cancer and will be taking these lab discoveries from bench to bedside. Another area of interest is studying the effect of immunotherapy in combination with conventional therapy, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy in pancreatic and hepatobiliary cancers. Dr. Rahma is currently the Principal Investigator of two multi-center clinical trials investigating cancer vaccines as novel treatment for pancreatic cancer. The first trial is investigating the combination of two types of vaccine, an allogeneic pancreatic vaccine that expresses G-CSF and a Listeria vaccine that is genetically engineered to express Mesothelin which is expressed in over 95% of pancreatic tumors. The second trial will be investigating another type of cancer vaccines, the HyperAcute®-Pancreas (algenpantucel-L) vaccine, that is consistent of two equal cell doses of allogeneic pancreatic cancer cell lines engineered to express the murine α(1,3)GT gene which not expressed in humans. Future directions will be to develop investigator initiated clinical trials using novel immunotherapeutic agents in addition to expanding the collaborative efforts with other large hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancer centers.