Alena Gros, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Tumor Immunology & Immunotherapy Group.

Spurred by recently published findings in The Journal of Clinical Investigation* that point to a novel, less invasive approach to indentify killer T lymphocytes in patients with gastrointestinal tumors with low mutational burden who are refractory to current immunotherapies, video channel OncologyTube conducted two back-to-back interviews with VHIO’s Alena Gros, Principal Investigator of our Tumor Immunology & Immunotherapy Group.

In the first chapter, Development of Cell Therapies to Non-Responders of Immunotherapies, she elegantly updates on the pioneering efforts that are fostering the design of innovative cell therapies to existing immune-based therapies for those patients who are refractory to approved treatments.

Also Lead and Senior Author of this present study, Alena mentions successes marked to-date in potentiating and personalizing immunotherapy to more effectively unleash the power of the immunme system to attack disease, citing metastatic melanoma as an example. She also highlights the current shortcomings in so doing across other tumor types, with gastrointestinal disease at the center of this particular research.

Summarizing her group’s investigations, also carried out in collaboration with Steven A. Rosenberg at the National Cancer Institute (NCI-NIH, Bethesda, USA) – an internationally renowned trailblazer in cancer immunotherapy, along with other researchers at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center (Portland, USA), and the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden), Alena also sets out next step directions towards improving outcomes for non-responders with other types of metastatic cancer – see the second chapter below, Can these Cells Kill the Tumor.

To access these two videos please click on the following links:



For VHIO’s news story covering this Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) paper please click here.

To discover more about VHIO’s Tumor Immunology & Immunotherapy Group’s research lines and projects, as well as our institutional BBVA Foundation-VHIO Comprehensive Program of Cancer Immunotherapy & Immunology (CAIMI)** please contact Amanda Wren, Director of Communications at VHIO, via email:



*Alena Gros, Eric Tran, Maria R. Parkhurst, Sadia Ilyas, Anna Pasetto, Eric M. Groh, Paul F. Robbins, Rami Yossef, Andrea Garcia-Garijo, Carlos A. Fajardo, Todd D. Prickett, Li Jia, Jared J. Gartner, Satyajit Ray, Lien Ngo, John R. Wunderllich, James C. Yang, and Steven A. Rosenberg. Recognition of human gastrointestinal cancer neoantigens by circulating PD-1+ lymphocytes. J Clin Invest. 2019.