Walter J Urba

Providence Portland Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, United States

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Publications (193)1487.68 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The 29th annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) was held November 7-9, 2014 in National Harbor, MD and was organized by Dr. Arthur A. Hurwitz (National Cancer Institute), Dr. Kim A. Margolin (Stanford University), Dr. Daniel E. Speiser (Ludwig Center for Cancer Research, University of Lausanne) and Dr. Walter J. Urba (Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center). This meeting included over 1,600 registered participants from 28 separate countries, making it the largest SITC meeting held to date. It highlighted significant worldwide progress in the development and application of cancer immunology to the practice of clinical oncology, including advances in diagnosis, prognosis and therapy, utilizing several immunological pathways and mechanisms for a variety of oncologic conditions. Presentations and posters demonstrated that many concepts that had been pursued preclinically in the past are now being translated into clinical practice, with clear benefits for patients.
    05/2015; 3(1). DOI:10.1186/s40425-015-0062-4
  • Cancer Research 05/2015; 75(9 Supplement):P5-01-12-P5-01-12. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.SABCS14-P5-01-12 · 9.28 Impact Factor
  • Brendan D Curti, Walter J Urba
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    ABSTRACT: The concept of using immunotherapy to treat melanoma has existed for decades. The rationale comes from the knowledge that many patients with melanoma have endogenous immune responses against their tumor cells and clinically meaningful tumor regression can be achieved in a minority of patients using cytokines such as interleukin-2 and adoptive cellular therapy. In the last 5 years there has been a revolution in the clinical management of melanoma in large measure based on the development of antibodies that influence T cell regulatory pathways by overcoming checkpoint inhibition and providing co-stimulation, either of which results in significantly more effective immune-mediated tumor destruction. This review will describe the pre-clinical and clinical application of antagonistic antibodies targeting the T-cell checkpoints cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed death 1 (PD-1), and agonistic antibodies targeting the costimulatory pathways OX40 and 4-1BB. Recent progress and opportunities for future investigation of combination antibody therapy will be described. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Molecular Immunology 03/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.molimm.2015.01.025 · 3.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Importance The anti-PD-1 therapeutic antibody, nivolumab, has demonstrated clinical activity in patients with advanced melanoma. The activity of nivolumab in subgroups of patients with tumors which have wild-type BRAF kinase vs patients with tumors having mutant BRAF has not systematically been explored in a large dataset. Objective To evaluate the efficacy and safety of nivolumab in patients with wild-type BRAF and mutant BRAF metastatic melanoma. Design, Setting, and Participants This was a retrospective analysis of data pooled from 4 clinical trials of nivolumab in 440 adult patients with unresectable stage III or stage IV melanoma, who had been tested for BRAF mutational status while participating in one of the studies.Intervention The investigational drug, nivolumab, was administered intravenously to study participants over a 60-minute period, at doses of 0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0, or 10.0 mg/kg every 2 weeks until disease progression, discontinuation owing to adverse events, withdrawal, or end of study. Most patients (83%) received nivolumab at a dosage of 3 mg/kg. Main Outcome and Measure Best overall response by modified World Health Organization or Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors criteria and safety profile. Results Of a total of 440 patients from 4 nivolumab clinical trials included in the analysis, 334 were BRAF wild-type and 106 were positive for BRAF V600 mutation. With the exception of prior BRAF inhibitor therapy, the demographics were well balanced between the 2 cohorts. In patients evaluable for response, the objective response rates were 34.6% (95% CI, 28.3-41.3) for the 217 patients with wild-type BRAF status and 29.7% (95% CI, 19.7-41.5) for the 74 with mutant BRAF status. The objective response rates did not seem to be affected by prior BRAF inhibitor therapy, prior ipilimumab therapy, or PD-L1 status of the tumor. The median duration of objective response was 14.8 months (95% CI, 11.1-24.0 months) for wild-type BRAF and 11.2 months (95% CI, 7.3-22.9 months) for mutant BRAF. Median time to objective response was 2.2 months in both patient groups. The incidence of treatment-related adverse events of any grade was 68.3% in the wild-type BRAF group and 58.5% in the mutant BRAF group, with grade 3 or 4 adverse events in 11.7% and 2.8% of patients, respectively. Treatment-related AEs of any grade that occurred in at least 5% of patients in either group were fatigue, pruritus, rash, and diarrhea.Conclusions and Relevance The results of this retrospective analysis suggest that nivolumab has similar efficacy and safety outcomes in patients with wild-type or mutant BRAF, regardless of prior BRAF inhibitor or ipilimumab treatment.
    01/2015; DOI:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.1184
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    ABSTRACT: High-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been FDA-approved for over 20 years, but it is offered only at a small number of centers with expertise in its administration. We analyzed the outcomes of patients receiving high-dose IL-2 in relation to the severity of toxicity to ascertain if response or survival were adversely affected.
    05/2014; 2:13. DOI:10.1186/2051-1426-2-13
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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy regulates innate and adaptive immune responses to pathogens and tumors. We have reported that autophagosomes derived from tumor cells after proteasome inhibition, DRibbles (Defective ribosomal products in blebs), were excellent sources of antigens for efficient cross priming of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, which mediated regression of established tumors in mice. But the activity of DRibbles in human has not been reported. DRibbles or cell lysates derived from HEK293T or UbiLT3 cell lines expressing cytomegalovirus (CMV) pp65 protein or transfected with a plasmid encoding dominant HLA-A2 restricted CMV, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and Influenza (Flu) epitopes (CEF) were loaded onto human monocytes or PBMCs and the response of human CMV pp65 or CEF antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ memory T cells was detected by intracellular staining. The effect of cytokines (GM-CSF, IL-4, IL-12, TNF-alpha, IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma) TLR agonists (Lipopolysaccharide, Polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C), M52-CpG, R848, TLR2 ligand) and CD40 ligand on the cross-presentation of antigens contained in DRibbles or cell lysates was explored . In this study we showed that purified monocytes, or human PBMCs, loaded with DRibbles isolated from cells expressing CMV or CEF epitopes, could activate CMV- or CEF-specific memory T cells. DRibbles were significantly more efficient at stimulating CD8+ memory T cells compared to cell lysates expressing the same antigenic epitopes. We optimized the conditions for T-cell activation and IFN-gamma production following direct loading of DRibbles onto PBMCs. We found that the addition of Poly(I:C), CD40 ligand, and GM-CSF to the PBMCs together with DRibbles significantly increased the level of CD8+ T cell responses. DRibbles containing specific viral antigens are an efficient ex vivo activator of human antigen-specific memory T cells specific for those antigens. This function could be enhanced by combining with Poly(I:C), CD40 ligand, and GM-CSF. This study provides proof-of-concept for applying this strategy to activate memory T cells against other antigens, including tumor-specific T cells ex vivo for immunological monitoring and adoptive immunotherapy, and in vivo as vaccines for patients with cancer.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 04/2014; 12(1):100. DOI:10.1186/1479-5876-12-100 · 3.99 Impact Factor
  • Walter J Urba
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    ABSTRACT: The cellular and molecular principles that furnish the foundation for ACT of melanoma and their implications for further clinical research are reviewed. The parallel advances in basic immunology, preclinical animal studies, and clinical trials over the last two decades have been integrated successfully with improvements in technology to produce an effective ACT strategy for patients with melanoma. From the initial observation that tumors could be treated effectively by the transfer of immune cells to current strategies using preconditioning with myeloablative therapy before adoptive transfer of native or genetically altered T cells, the role of preclinical animal models is discussed. The importance of the pmel transgenic mouse model in the determination of the mechanisms of lymphodepletion, the ongoing work to identify the optimal T cells for adoptive immunotherapy, and the early impact of the emerging discipline of synthetic biology are highlighted. The clinical consequences of the research described herein are reviewed in the companion manuscript.
    Journal of leukocyte biology 03/2014; 95(6). DOI:10.1189/jlb.0513301 · 4.99 Impact Factor
  • 11/2013; 1(Suppl 1):P113-P113. DOI:10.1186/2051-1426-1-S1-P113
  • 11/2013; 1(Suppl 1):P260-P260. DOI:10.1186/2051-1426-1-S1-P260
  • 11/2013; 1(Suppl 1):P262. DOI:10.1186/2051-1426-1-S1-P262
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    ABSTRACT: Overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) leads to angiogenesis, tumor progression, and inhibition of immune function. We conducted the first phase II study to estimate the efficacy and safety of bevacizumab with high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy in patients with metastatic RCC. Eligible patients had predominantly clear cell metastatic RCC, measurable disease, a Karnofsky Performance Status of ≥80%, and adequate end-organ function. IL-2 (600,000 IU/kg) was infused intravenously every 8 hours (maximum 28 doses) during two 5-day cycles on days 1 and 15 of each 84-day course. Bevacizumab (10 mg/kg) was infused intravenously every 2 weeks beginning 2 weeks before initiating IL-2. Fifty of 51 eligible patients from 8 centers were enrolled. Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 11.2 months (90% confidence interval, 5.7-17.7), and 2-year PFS was 18% (90% confidence interval, 8%-27%). Responses included 4 complete (8%) and 11 partial (22%) responses. Toxicities did not exceed those expected from each agent alone. Combining IL-2 plus bevacizumab is feasible, with a response rate and PFS at least as high as reported previously for the single agents. The regimen did not appear to enhance the rate of durable major responses over that of IL-2 alone.
    Journal of immunotherapy (Hagerstown, Md.: 1997) 11/2013; 36(9):490-5. DOI:10.1097/CJI.0000000000000003 · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OX40 is a potent co-stimulatory receptor that can potentiate T cell receptor signaling on the surface of T lymphocytes, leading to their activation by a specifically recognized antigen. In particular, OX40 engagement by ligands present on dendritic cells dramatically increases the proliferation, effector function and survival of T cells. Preclinical studies have shown that OX40 agonists increase anti-tumor immunity and improve tumor-free survival. In this study, we performed a Phase I clinical trial using a mouse monoclonal antibody (mAb) that agonizes human OX40 signaling in patients with advanced cancer. Patients treated with one course of the anti-OX40 mAb showed an acceptable toxicity profile and regression of at least one metastatic lesion in 12/30 patients. Mechanistically, this treatment increased T and B cell responses to reporter antigen immunizations, led to preferential upregulation of OX40 on CD4+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes andincreased the anti-tumor reactivity of T and B cells in patients with melanoma. Our findings clinically validate OX40 as a potent immune-stimulating target for treatment in cancer patients, providing a generalizable tool to favorably influence the antitumor properties of circulating T cells, B cells and intratumoral regulatory T cells.
    Cancer Research 10/2013; 73(24). DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4174 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy is associated with durable clinical benefit in patients with melanoma. The goal of this article is to provide evidence-based consensus recommendations for the use of immunotherapy in the clinical management of patients with high-risk and advanced-stage melanoma in the USA. To achieve this goal, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer sponsored a panel of melanoma experts-including physicians, nurses, and patient advocates-to develop a consensus for the clinical application of tumour immunotherapy for patients with melanoma. The Institute of Medicine clinical practice guidelines were used as a basis for this consensus development. A systematic literature search was performed for high-impact studies in English between 1992 and 2012 and was supplemented as appropriate by the panel. This consensus report focuses on issues related to patient selection, toxicity management, clinical end points and sequencing or combination of therapy. The literature review and consensus panel voting and discussion were used to generate recommendations for the use of immunotherapy in patients with melanoma, and to assess and rate the strength of the supporting evidence. From the peer-reviewed literature the consensus panel identified a role for interferon-α2b, pegylated-interferon-α2b, interleukin-2 (IL-2) and ipilimumab in the clinical management of melanoma. Expert recommendations for how to incorporate these agents into the therapeutic approach to melanoma are provided in this consensus statement. Tumour immunotherapy is a useful therapeutic strategy in the management of patients with melanoma and evidence-based consensus recommendations for clinical integration are provided and will be updated as warranted.
    Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology 08/2013; DOI:10.1038/nrclinonc.2013.153 · 15.70 Impact Factor
  • Walter J Urba
    The Oncologist 06/2013; 18(6):658-60. DOI:10.1634/theoncologist.2013-0212 · 4.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The immunotherapeutic agent ipilimumab has helped address a significant unmet need in the treatment of advanced melanoma. Ipilimumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that targets cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), thereby augmenting antitumor immune responses. After decades in which a number of clinical trials were conducted, ipilimumab was the first therapy to improve overall survival in a randomized, controlled phase III trial of patients with advanced melanoma. These results led to the regulatory approval of ipilimumab at 3 mg/kg for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma. More than 17,000 patients worldwide have received ipilimumab, either as a commercial drug at 3 mg/kg or in clinical trials and expanded access programs at different doses. Consistent with its proposed mechanism of action, the most common toxicities associated with ipilimumab therapy are inflammatory in nature. These immune-related adverse events were mostly reversible when effective treatment guidelines were followed. Importantly, long-term follow-up of patients who received ipilimumab in a phase III trial showed that 24% survived at least two years, and in phase II studies, a proportion of patients survived at least five years. Evaluation of ipilimumab is ongoing in the adjuvant setting for melanoma, and for advanced disease in nonsmall cell lung, small cell lung, prostate, ovarian, and gastric cancers.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 06/2013; 1291(1). DOI:10.1111/nyas.12180 · 4.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent investigations of the tumor microenvironment have shown that many tumors are infiltrated by inflammatory and lymphocytic cells. Increasing evidence suggests that the number, type and location of these tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in primary tumors has prognostic value, and this has led to the development of an 'immunoscore' As well as providing useful prognostic information, the immunoscore concept also has the potential to help predict response to treatment, thereby improving decision- making with regard to choice of therapy. This predictive aspect of the tumor microenvironment forms the basis for the concept of immunoprofiling, which can be described as 'using an individual's immune system signature (or profile) to predict that patient's response to therapy. The immunoprofile of an individual can be genetically determined or tumor-induced (and therefore dynamic). Ipilimumab is the first in a series of immunomodulating antibodies and has been shown to be associated with improved overall survival in patients with advanced melanoma. Other immunotherapies in development include anti-programmed death 1 protein (nivolumab), anti-PD-ligand 1, anti-CD137 (urelumab), and anti-OX40. Biomarkers that can be used as predictive factors for these treatments have not yet been clinically validated. However, there is already evidence that the tumor microenvironment can have a predictive role, with clinical activity of ipilimumab related to high baseline expression of the immune-related genes FoxP3 and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and an increase in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. These biomarkers could represent the first potential proposal for an immunoprofiling panel in patients for whom anti-CTLA-4 therapy is being considered, although prospective data are required. In conclusion, the evaluation of systemic and local immunological biomarkers could offer useful prognostic information and facilitate clinical decision making. The challenge will be to identify the individual immunoprofile of each patient and the consequent choice of optimal therapy or combination of therapies to be used.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 03/2013; 11(1):54. DOI:10.1186/1479-5876-11-54 · 3.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Anticancer immunotherapy holds great promises, as long-term responses to interleukin-2 have been observed in metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma patients. However, improving the relative low rates of such responses has constituted a great challenge. In our experience, high-dose radiation combined with interleukin-2 provided encouraging results that are worth exploring further.
    OncoImmunology 12/2012; 1(9):1645-1647. DOI:10.4161/onci.21746 · 6.28 Impact Factor
  • Walter J Urba, Brendan D Curti
    10/2012; 2(10):957-959. DOI:10.4155/cli.12.101
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    ABSTRACT: Serum and plasma levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) correlate with prognosis in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). VEGF binds to 2 receptors on endothelial cells, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2. RPI.4610 (Angiozyme0) is an antiangiogenic ribozyme targeting the VEGFR-1 mRNA. Preclinical and phase 1 studies suggested that RPI.4610 is a well-tolerated agent with clinical activity in solid tumors. The authors' trial evaluated the efficacy of RPI.4610 in the treatment of patients with progressive MBC. This phase 2, multicenter, single-arm study was designed to assess the objective response rate of RPI.4610 in patients with MBC who had experienced disease progression with at least 1 course of chemotherapy for MBC. Patients received daily subcutaneous injections of RPI.4610 100 mg/m(2) for 12 weeks. Most patients (93%) had received at least 2 lines of chemotherapy previously; 69% of patients had received at least 3 lines of chemotherapy. Median follow-up was 2.76 months (range, 0.89-36.6 months). No partial responses nor complete responses were found. Median progression-free survival was 1.41 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.35-1.45). The median overall survival from start of treatment was 11.89 months (95% CI, 4.11-23.66). Treatment-related adverse events (AEs) were primarily grade 1 to 2 in intensity. Most common AEs were: injection site reactions, abdominal pain, anorexia, chromaturia, constipation, dyspnea, fatigue, headache, pain at the injection site, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Although RPI.4610 demonstrated a well-tolerated safety profile, its lack of clinical efficacy precludes this drug from further development.
    Cancer 09/2012; 118(17):4098-104. DOI:10.1002/cncr.26730 · 4.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is generally believed that most tumor antigens are passively released from either health or dying tumor cells as intact soluble antigens, peptide fragments complexed with heat shock proteins (HSPs), or packaged in secretary vesicles in the form of microparticles or exosomes. The passive release of tumor antigens is generally non-inflammatory and non-immunogenic; however, results from others and our laboratories suggest that autophagy is critically involved in immunogenic cell death.
    OncoImmunology 09/2012; 1(6):976-978. DOI:10.4161/onci.20059 · 6.28 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
1,487.68 Total Impact Points


  • 1998–2014
    • Providence Portland Medical Center
      Portland, Oregon, United States
  • 2013
    • Rush University Medical Center
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2012
    • Oregon Research Institute
      Eugene, Oregon, United States
  • 2010
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2007
    • Northern California Arthritis Center
      Walnut Creek, California, United States
    • Loyola University Chicago
      • Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center
      Chicago, IL, United States
  • 2005
    • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
      • Division of Hematology/Oncology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2002
    • Oregon Health and Science University
      • Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
      Portland, Oregon, United States
  • 2001
    • National Institutes of Health
      Maryland, United States
  • 1988–2000
    • Leidos Biomedical Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 1988–1999
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      • Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program
      Maryland, United States
  • 1996
    • SAIC
      United States
  • 1989–1996
    • Frederick Memorial Hospital
      Фредерик, Maryland, United States
    • NCI-Frederick
      Фредерик, Maryland, United States