Leonid S. Metelitsa, MD, PhD
- Texas Medical Center
Co-Director, Neuroblastoma Program
Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine
|Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California||post-doctoral fellow||2002|
|N.N. Blokhin Memorial Cancer Research Center of Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia||university||Doctor of Philosophy||1995|
|Tver State Medical Academy, Russia||medical school||Doctor of Medicine||1992|
|American Association of Immunologists (AAI)||Member|
|American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI)||Elected Member|
|American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT)||Member|
Dr. Leonid Metelitsa’s research focuses on understanding the role of Vα24-invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells in tumor immunity and translating this knowledge into NKT cell-based cancer immunotherapies. His group was the first to demonstrate that NKT cells localize to primary tumors in human patients and that presence of these cells at the tumor site is associated with favorable outcomes in the clinic (Metelitsa et al, JEM, 2004). Further studies revealed the underlying mechanistic basis of NKT cell tumor localization and function in the tumor microenvironment (Song et al, JCI, 2007; Song et al, JCI, 2009; Liu et al, JCI, 2012).
Based on the knowledge gained from studying NKT cell immunobiology, the Metelitsa group has developed original technologies and processes for NKT cell isolation, genetic modification with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR), and ex vivo expansion to clinical scale (Heczey et al, Blood, 2014; Tian et al, JCI, 2016). These efforts have resulted in initiation of a first-in-human CAR NKT cell clinical trial, GINAKIT2 (NCT03294954), that will test NKTs expressing an optimized second-generation GD2-specific CAR in children with neuroblastoma.
Clinical Special Interests
Va24-Ja18-invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cells
NKT-based immunotherapeutic strategies