Dr. Helen Heslop is a physician-scientist engaged in translational research focusing on adoptive immunotherapy with gene-modified effector cells, to improve hemopoietic stem cell transplantation and cancer therapy. A key step in this strategy has been the translation of laboratory findings to Phase I and II clinical trials, as exemplified by studies of Epstein Barr virus-induced lymphoproliferative disease (EBV-LPD), a fatal complication in about 15% of recipients of unrelated or mismatched family member bone marrow transplants in the early 1990s.
In collaboration with Dr. Cliona Rooney, she developed methods for early diagnosis of this disease and procedures for generating cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) from bone marrow donors. These studies were the first to demonstrate that antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells could eradicate an established malignancy and because the cells were genetically marked, we obtained definitive evidence of cell expansion, trafficking to tumor sites and decade-long persistence. Subsequent protocols have extended this approach to Hodgkin's Disease, NHL and nasopharyngeal cancer.
She has an additional focus in reconstituting antiviral immunity post transplant in collaboration with Drs. Rooney, Leen and Bollard and is currently leading an NHLBI-funded multicenter trial of allogeneic multivirus specific T cells. She therefore has extensive experience in developing and conducting transplant studies and cell and gene therapy studies under IND and has also obtained orphan drug designation for my initial study. Other areas of research focus in collaboration include identification of novel tumor antigens and genetic modification of CTLs to overcome tumor evasion strategies.
In collaboration with Drs. Brenner, Dotti, Savoldo, Gottschalk and Ahded group they are also evaluating if transduction of CTLs with chimeric antigen receptors can allow targeting of CD19+ve, CD30+ve and her2neu+ve malignancies.
Dr. Heslop’s research interests focus on adoptive immunotherapy for malignancy and viral infections. Dr. Heslop oversees several peer-reviewed clinical research projects, including:
- An NCI-funded program project grant (Enhancing T-Cell Therapy of Cancer),
- A SPORE grant in Lymphoma, and
- A Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) award.
Dr. Helen Heslop is a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist and has extensive experience in mentoring both clinical and laboratory trainees. Dr. Heslop is also the principal investigator on an NHLBI-funded training grant in Cell and Gene Therapy. She has extensive experience with clinical cell therapy studies, and serves with Dr. Malcolm Brenner and Bambi Grilley as sponsor for over 20 active cell and gene therapy therapy INDs.
Immunotherapy of malignancies with antigen specific T cells
Immunotherapy with antigen specific T cells to prevent and treat viral infections post transplant