Immunotherapy Program

In This Section


Roger Williams Medical Center participates in numerous immunotherapy clinical trials which are offered   in collaboration with our new onsite immunotherapy Core Lab Facility and Principal Investigators who are known nationally and worldwide for their outstanding work in this field.

These trials may provide a clinically effective anti-tumor response without increasing treatment- related toxicities when conventional therapies have reached their maximum benefit or are no longer effective against a patient’s cancer.

One approach is to recruit the patient’s own anti-tumor activity by taking a small portion of the patient’s T cells (cells of the immune system that fight cancer), activating them so that they multiply many times in culture, and the giving them back to the patient in order to “boost” the patient’s immune system to fight his/her cancer.

We currently offer Phase Ib/II clinical trials using second generation designer T cells in breast, prostate, gastrointestinal and solid tumors. T cells can penetrate virtually every biologic space in our bodies, and have the power to dispose of normal or malignant cells as seen in viral and autoimmune diseases and in the rare spontaneous remissions of cancer.  In these studies patient’s T cells are collected, and then  they are modified  using gene transfer technology,  to allow them to recognize surface proteins on cancer cells (tumor markers), so that they may target their activity more specifically. The target antigen being used for these studies is either carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) which is predominantly expressed on tumors of the colon, rectum, breast, pancreas and other sites, or PSMA for prostate cancers. These modified cells may also be given locally for patients who have liver metastases as a result of CEA positive cancers.

Other studies use a process called the “arming” of T cells. This involves coating the patient’s expanded T cells with a bispecific antibody, which binds one end to the T cells and has another end that recognizes certain molecules that are on the surface of cancer cells. The patient’s T cells are then redirected  to specifically target and attack cancer cells once infused back into patient.

The Cancer Immunotherapy Program is built upon a translational research laboratory. Our basic and clinical laboratory team is experienced in developing, producing and testing the safety and efficacy of investigational new biologic therapies in preclinical research and FDA- reviewed clinical trials. Since it’s establishment in 1999 and enrollment of the first clinical trial patient in 2001, the Cancer Immunotherapy Program has continued to enroll patients into various FDA reviewed and RWMC Internal Review Board approved immunotherapy clinical trials.