SEPTEMBER 17, 2021, NEW YORK – Ludwig Cancer Research congratulates Ludwig Lausanne Director George Coukos on his receipt of the 2021 ESMO Translational Research Award for his pioneering contributions to cancer immunology and immunotherapy, particularly for ovarian cancer.
Nearly two decades ago, Coukos led a landmark study that demonstrated that the infiltration of immune cells known as T cells into ovarian tumors is closely associated with better survival of patients. That discovery challenged the common belief at the time that most cancers, including ovarian cancer, were unlikely to be responsive to immune targeting and helped lay the groundwork for now widespread efforts to treat a broad variety of solid tumors with immunotherapy.
His laboratory’s subsequent work showed that the blood vessels supporting tumors play a key and active role in excluding anti-tumoral T cells—representing a tumor endothelial barrier to the immune response—and that therapies that normalize the tumor vasculature could drive T cell infiltration and boost the immune rejection of malignancies. This work has led to several clinical trials combining anti-angiogenic drugs with immunotherapies. Coukos has led several major studies identifying the mechanisms by which various types of immune factors and cells interact with the tumor microenvironment to suppress anti-cancer immune responses. This work has resulted in the identification and development of novel strategies for cancer immunotherapy.
As Director of the Ludwig Institute Branch in Lausanne, Coukos has spearheaded an ambitious translational research program to develop and streamline the delivery of personalized immunotherapies for cancer patients. Work on personalized cancer vaccines and T cell therapies, among other strategies, is already moving from to the bench to the bedside through research led in partnership with the University of Lausanne and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), where Coukos directs the oncology department.
Coukos will formally receive the award and deliver a lecture today during the ESMO Congress 2021.