HPV Research Team - Stand Up to Cancer

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SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team:
Therapeutic CD8 Vaccines Against
Conserved E7 HPV Epitopes Identified by MS

Grant Term: July 2014–June 2019

The SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team focuses on patients with HPV-driven cancers (including cervical, anal, and head and neck cancer) who relapse following initial therapy. The team aims to develop novel immunotherapy approaches that will address this important unmet clinical need.


Once a cancer-causing type of HPV has established itself, immune cells called cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are required to eradicate the virus-infected precancerous or cancerous cells. CTLs recognize “tags” on the surface of other cells. More specifically, molecules on the CTLs called T cell receptors (TCRs) detect cell tags called epitopes. Using their TCRs, CTLs can distinguish between normal and abnormal cells with great specificity.

Members of the team have developed a novel method to find epitopes on cancer cells that are entirely specific for the cancer and hence not found on normal cells in the body. CTLs in the patient’s body can be programmed by vaccination to detect these epitopes and then attack and kill the cancer cells to which they are attached. One epitope CTL target that the team has already identified has been incorporated into a potential therapeutic vaccine. The team is testing this vaccine in patients in a clinical trial as part of the support received from Stand Up To Cancer.


The top scientists and researchers on the SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team.

Team Members

Ellis L. Reinherz, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Team Leader

Robert I. Haddad, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Mary-Jo Murphy, MS
Farrah Fawcett Foundation

Joanie Lindstorm
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Project Manager

“Our project involves the development of vaccines that stimulate specific immune cells to attack HPV-driven cancer cells.”

Ellis L. Reinherz, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click on the link to see summaries of research results so far for the SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation HPV Research Team.



Mechanosensing Drives Acuity of αβ T-Cell Recognition
Feng Y, Brazin KN, Kobayashi E, et al. (2017)
PNAS 114:E8204-8213.
TANTIGEN: A Comprehensive Database of Tumor T Cell Antigens
Olsen LR, Tongchusak S Lin, H, et al. (2017)
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy 66(6):731-735.


Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available; in fact, the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials aren’t completed because not enough people take part.

At StandUpToCancer.org/ClinicalTrials, you’ll find information and answers to common questions about clinical trials. Learn more and talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be the best choice for you.

You can also connect with EmergingMed, a free and confidential clinical trial matching service that provides access to a vast database to help you identify the clinical trials that might be right for you or your loved one.



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