Hideho Okada, MD, PhD
Dr. Okada is a physician-scientist capable of originating therapeutic modalities in the laboratory, translating them into clinical protocols, and utilizing his expertise as both scientist and clinician to assess the clinical data from ongoing trials. Dr. Okada’s efforts have consistently focused on immunotherapeutic strategies aimed at a daunting challenge in oncology – malignant brain tumors. His work was the first to identify and fully characterize cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes for gliomas. His seminal discovery of CTL epitopes in glioma-associated antigens has enabled him to initiate novel glioma vaccine trials in combination with poly-ICLC as an adjuvant. The first of these – a phase 1 study – has already yielded evidence for the safety of the vaccine and its ability to evoke relevant immunological responses. These efforts have also been supported by Dr. Okada’s mechanistic studies delineating the role of an integrin receptor very late activation antigen (VLA)-4 and chemokine CXCL10 in efficient trafficking of T-cells to brain tumor sites. He holds four Investigational New Drug approvals for his own vaccine trials. Dr. Okada has recently extended the breadth of his studies on immune recognition of cancer cells to include a critical modulatory role of microRNA. This work suggests a novel paradigm as to how modulation of microRNA will allow us to overcome the current challenges in cancer-immunotherapy.